Melvin sees young hitters improving
Skipper says offense has picked up in past week
D-backs manager Bob Melvin took some time before Wednesday's game to answer fans' questions in an online chat. He shared his views on a number of topics, including Arizona's young hitters, competition in the NL West, balancing work and family, Chris Young's rehab and starting pitching.
Bob Melvin: Hi, everybody -- I'm excited to be part of this. Let's get started.
nascarfan: How competitive do you think the National League West is so far this season?
Melvin: Very competitive across the board. The starting pitching is as good as any other division, so there will be a lot of one-run games, especially in the California parks that play a little bigger. And I think you're already seeing that.
GoDBacks07: How is Chad Tracy's rehab going?
Melvin: He's still not doing baseball activities so it's tough to forecast. Once he starts playing catch and taking batting practice, it will be easier to come up with a timetable.
GoDBacks07: We have seen Chris Young mature and start producing at the plate. What is your outlook on the young bats (Conor Jackson, Stephen Drew, Carlos Quentin, Alberto Callaspo), whose numbers have been less then stellar this year?
Melvin: Sometimes with younger players the struggles will be longer, but we're starting to see all these guys swing the bat a lot better and the offense has picked up in the last week. They're all talented players that we expect them to get better as the season goes along.
JoshG: What do you think about moving Tony Pena into the setup spot instead of Brandon Lyon?
Melvin: I consider Pena and Lyon both setup men, with Pena having the ability to be a closer down the road. Based on availability, Pena has set up this year and I consider the seventh and eighth inning guys, setup guys.
qudjy1: Why do you continue to let Eric Byrnes make somersault throws?
Melvin: Eric creates a lot of momentum by charging the ball very hard and based on the momentum when he lets the ball go, that's how he stops his momentum.
mjr9293: Do you believe you guys need another starting pitcher to go with Brandon Webb and Randy Johnson?
Melvin: I think we already have that with Livan Hernandez and Doug Davis. Josh Byrnes did a great job of going out and getting us innings-eaters and the trickle-down effect helps our bullpen by limiting their innings over the course of a season. And Micah Owings is going to be a solid big-league starter as well.
DBaxster104: Being a manager must be time consuming, how do you balance work and family?
Melvin: Managing is very time consuming, but my family is very important to me. My daughter, Alexi, is an aspiring actress in New York. She had her debut in Phantom of the Opera this winter. So it's important to devote a lot of time to your family, as well.
AmyLor: Of all the players you have coached, which one do you consider to be the most "coachable"?
Melvin: The guys who are considered self-starters are the easiest to coach. You know that their preparation is going to be there on a daily basis and all you have to do is tell them where they're playing, where they're hitting and what time the game is. I would consider Ichiro, Craig Counsell, Orlando Hudson to fit that mold.
GoDBacks07: I know it's early in the season, but today the D-backs sit 1.5 games back in a very tight division. How do you see the D-backs versus the rest of the NL West?
Melvin: I think the division is very close and you're seeing that in the standings right now. No one has really dominated in intradivisional play thus far and I think the division will be competitive all the way to the end.
joethomas: In the last couple of games, the runners have been getting more aggressive on the bases, can we expect to see them get even more aggressive and attempt more stolen bases?
Melvin: I wouldn't consider us a team with a lot of speed, yet based on the opposing pitching and how quick they are to the plate, we will take advantage of the opportunities that we get.
qudjy1: Thanks for participating in this chat. First, I would like to give you kudos for moving Jackson to the No. 2 spot in the lineup. Early results seem to indicate that was a great move.
Melvin: Even with some of Conor's struggles early on, he was still getting on base at a .350-plus clip. He's swinging the bat much better now climbing from .210 to .250 and is one of our highest on-base percentage guys at .375 right now. Therefore, the two-spot makes sense for him.
lomoe: Edgar Martinez is being inducted into the Mariner's Hall of Fame this summer. Having managed him, do you feel that he should go into the MLB Hall of Fame?
Melvin: I do. I think the fact that the number of walks he has takes away from his overall offensive numbers, especially hits -- but all the right-handed hitters that I've managed and/or played against, I don't know of a better one.
CY-MyBoy: When will Chris Young come back?
Melvin: Young is in the lineup tonight. He's leading off and playing center field. It's good to have him back. He was swinging the bat as well as anyone before his injury.
DBJ-MESA: With an off-day coming next week, how do you anticipate handling the starting rotation?
Melvin: I anticipate staying in rotation. Thanks for the question, Nick.
TSRedd: With the success of Mark Reynolds at third base, what is his future in terms of this season?
Melvin: Based on what he's doing right now it would be hard not to keep him here. It also bodes well for him that he plays multiple positions. We will continue to evaluate that leading into Chad Tracy's return and consider all our options before making a decision.
Melvin: That's all the time I have today, I've got to get ready for tonight's game. Thanks for all the great questions. I look forward to doing this again.
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.