It did not take clinching a postseason berth to convince the D-Backs that their man, Bob Melvin, is the 2007 NL manager of the year despite a group of candidates that include championship series opponent Clint Hurdle.
“He’s pushed all the right buttons from Day 1,” outfielder Eric Byrnes said.
“He’s dealt with everything, with guys getting called up, guys getting hurt. Making do with what he has. He continued to juggle the lineup and the position players to make sure we got the right guys in there.
“He’s very meticulous about making sure we have the right matchups.”
The D-Backs were the only NL team to reach 90 victories in the regular season and also led the major leagues with 12 pinch-hit home runs.
Melvin used 146 different lineups in the regular season, and used two more new ones in the three-game sweep of the Cubs.
“It’s not by accident that those guys have had success in those situations,” Byrnes said.
Catcher Chris Snyder said Melvin has a good feel for the clubhouse.
“He’s an old catcher. He knows what to do and what needs to be done,” Snyder said.
“He knows when it is time for a pat on the back, words of encouragement, and when there is a time for a kick in the butt. He makes his point, and the point is taken well.”
The manager of the year is selected by a vote of the Baseball Writers Association of America and is not affected by the postseason, since ballots are submitted at the conclusion of the regular season.
The award winner will be announced in the next few weeks.
The D-Backs are expected to announce their pitching rotation for the series today.
While there is a chance Brandon Webb could potentially start three games in the series, it appears the D-Backs will stick to a four-man rotation that includes Micah Owings in Game 4 following Webb, Doug Davis and Livan Hernandez.
Because the NL championship series has been lengthened to include an off day between Games 4 and 5 in Colorado, the pitcher who starts the series opener could start Game 4 on three days’ rest before returning in a potential Game 7 on regular rest.
“I haven’t heard any talk about that,” Webb said. “If there is a must-win game, I’d like to be in there.”
Owings, who has not pitched since beating Pittsburgh on Sept. 27 on two hours’ notice, will get in his work by starting for the D-Backs’ instructional league team in Tucson, manager Bob Melvin said.
FOUR DAYS OFF
Both Arizona and Colorado will enter the series with four days off, something Byrnes appreciates.
“I like the layoff. I think it’s great. To have four days off this time of year, especially when we were playing so many big games down the stretch,” Byrnes said.
“I don’t think that’s going to affect anything.”
Colorado has won 17 of their last 18 games, the best such streak at this point of a season in baseball history.
They won 14 of their last 15 regular season games, their only loss against Webb at Coors Field on Sept. 28.
Like Owings, Colorado’s Aaron Cook is expected to start and throw 80 pitches in an instructional league game, scheduled for Wednesday. Cook, who has been out since Aug. 11 with a left oblique muscle injury, is eligible to return from the 60-day disabled in time for a Game 4 start Monday, if the Rockies so choose. Josh Fogg also is an option. The Rockies are expected to use Jeff Francis, Ubaldo Jimenez and Franklin Morales in the first three games.
Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt is behind the D-Backs. He opened his weekly Monday press gathering by congratulating the D-Backs on their NL division series sweep of Chicago.
Why change now? As they did occasionally in the regular season, Hernandez and Davis flew their radio-controlled airplanes in Chase Field before a light Monday workout.
The D-Backs likely will carry 14 position players and 11 pitchers, Melvin saying Monday that 11 pitchers are probably more necessary in a seven-game series than in a five-gamer.
Although the D-Backs’ ticket office originally said Game 2 would start at 1 p.m., it was changed later in the day to 7:18 p.m.
“We love (the change), because it will help our fans be able to get to the ball park. They won’t have to choose between work and the game,” D-Backs executive Shawn Rachau said. Game 1 begins at 5:37 p.m.