Melvin Mora Injury Update

Third baseman Melvin Mora suffered neck soreness and was expected to miss as much as a week after being involved in automobile accident while driving to the D-backs' spring training facility at Salt River Fields on March 7. One week later, he still has not gotten back into a game.

Melvin Mora was struck from behind on the U.S. 101 on Monday, and later was checked by team physicians.

"He said it felt like something fell on him from the top. Totally shocked. Just boom," said D-backs manager Kirk Gibson, whose early estimate was that Mora would miss between three and seven days. "But if he's not right, he's not going to play."

Infielder/outfielder Ryan Roberts started at third base the first day of Mora's absence, and was hitting .560 through games of March 12.   Infielder Geoff Blum and non-roster invitee Cody Ransom also have seen time there. Russell Branyan, signed to compete for the first base job, is not likely to see action at the hot corner, Gibson said, although he has spent several seasons at third base after coming up there in the Cleveland system.

The D-backs have not defined their regular-season rotation at third base as Mora and Blum, but Gibson indicated it would not be a platoon situation with right-handed hitting Mora and switch-hitter Blum.

Mora will see "significant time," Gibson said, but noted that 600 plate appearances for Mora might be a stretch.

"My guess is, that wouldn't be optimal for him," Gibson said. "I think you have to be a little smarter about that. And besides, I would rather keep everybody involved."

SNAKE BYTES

--LHP Zach Duke was hit on the back of the left hand by a line drive during his start Saturday and came out of the game immediately. It wasn't believed to be serious, but he was to be examined Sunday.

--1B/OF Xavier Nady made his first spring start at first base March 8, and he will be used there during the regular season, manager Kirk Gibson said. "He hasn't played a ton over there, but he is going to be in the mix over there to give some flexibility for our roster," Gibson said. Nady, who had his second Tommy John surgery 18 months ago, played 48 games at first base with the Cubs last season and has played 134 games there in his career.

--RHP Daniel Hudson is working on his slider during spring training and has said he would like to integrate it into his repertoire to complement his primary fastball/changeup combination. "I mixed that in to lefties, tried to get it on the back foot a little more," Hudson said after his third spring start March 8, when he gave up one run and struck out four in three innings. "I liked the way it was coming out of my hand. I liked the break."

--2B Kelly Johnson had three hits (including a double), scored twice, and drove in a run against Cleveland on March 8 while wearing RHP Brian Sweeney's No. 37 jersey. "I told them I felt very strong and hitterish wearing a pitcher's jersey," said Johnson, whose No. 2 did not make the trip to Goodyear Ballpark.

--The D-backs and Colorado did their part to make Salt River Fields defense-normal this spring. Gibson and Rockies manager Jim Tracy talked in the offseason and agreed to soften the area in front of home plate, to play as if it were a regular-season field. "If a guy hits a ball directly at the plate, that should be an out. It's never a hit in the regular season. Ever," Gibson said. "It gets hard here and (the ball) gets all that topspin."

DIAMOND STAT: 10 -- Hits by Russell Branyan, including two home runs, in his first 24 spring training at-bats as he competes for the first base job after entering camp on a minor league contract.

QUOTABLE: "Defense, you have to work at it. You can't just go out there and stand in a hula hoop and say, 'OK, hit it to me.' " -- D-backs manager Kirk Gibson


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