Notes: Owings could play the field
Right-hander's hitting, fielding prowess might open door
PHOENIX -- Micah Owings has made headlines with his bat lately, hitting three homers in his past two starts.He also possesses the experience of playing the field on days he did not pitch in college, leading it to cross manager Bob Melvin's mind that he could move Owings into the field for a tough left-handed batter and then bring him back to pitch. That won't happen this year because Owings has not worked much in the field, but since Owings played first base and outfield in college on the days he did not pitch, Melvin said it would be possible in the future. "If that's something that next year we feel like [doing] ... there's no doubt in my mind he could probably play a position," Melvin said. "We just don't need him to do that right now." Owings has been a major contributor at the plate, hitting .273 with four homers and 12 RBIs, with the latter two categories leading all pitchers, to go with a .903 OPS. He averages a homer every 11.5 at-bats, which leads the team. Melvin said it's a little uncomfortable to pinch-hit with a starting pitcher because of the possibility of an injury, but Owings' numbers make him hard to overlook as an option.
"Micah's just a phenomenal talent as far as swinging the bat," Melvin said. "You're not going to see too many guys have the ability that he does."Reynolds, Upton sit during slumps: Melvin did not pencil in Mark Reynolds in his starting lineup for the second straight day as the third baseman tries to work his way out of a slump. Jeff Cirillo took Reynolds' place at third once again. Reynolds has gone hitless in his last 16 at-bats, with 13 strikeouts. "Just a little distance from a tough stretch for him," Melvin said. "I talked to him today. He knows he's our third baseman. Sometimes you just need a little distance from a difficult stretch." Justin Upton also had the day off, with Jeff Salazar starting in his place, a day after he broke out of a 2-for-23 slump with a 2-for-3 night that included an RBI double on his 20th birthday. "Upton had a good game for him," Melvin said. "I'll let him sit on that for a day, but Salazar, I need to get him in there periodically, too. He's been a nice piece for us. We'll give him today's game and then move on." With Reynolds and Upton both starting the season in Double-A, Melvin said mental fatigue can wear on a young player at this point of the season moreso than physical fatigue. He remains confident that both players will work through these rough stretches. Lyon holds record: After pitching a scoreless eighth inning Saturday night, D-backs setup man Brandon Lyon broke the club's single-season hold record with his 26th of the season, surpassing Luis Vizcaino's club mark set last season. "I'm just doing my job well, I guess," Lyon said. "That's about all I can say -- [I'm] just going out there and trying to make quality pitches and just keep my team with the lead right there in those situations." Although the bullpen ranks 17th in the Majors with a 3.99 ERA entering Sunday, a total inflated by games when the middle relievers got shelled, closer Jose Valverde leads baseball with 39 saves and Lyon has combined with Tony Pena (23 holds) as the only teammates among the top 10 in the Majors in holds. "I think it's a product of a lot of the close games that we play," Melvin said. "Going into the season, those were the three guys we were going to lean on. Based on the games we've played, they're in there a lot, and due to having some success, certainly those guys are very important to it." Gonzalez earns taste of Triple-A: The D-backs promoted heralded prospect Carlos Gonzalez to Triple-A Tucson this weekend. Gonzalez, ranked as baseball's No. 18 prospect by Baseball America at the beginning of the season, hit .286 with 16 homers and 75 RBIs in 120 games for Double-A Mobile. He went 2-for-6 with a double and a run in his Triple-A debut Saturday. "Carlos has had a very good last few months and deserved to get a taste of Triple-A the last few weeks of the season," said D-backs farm director A.J. Hinch. " It is nice to be able to reward him for a very solid season." Tracy update: Chad Tracy (knee tendinitis) played catch sitting down on Saturday, but baseball activities are still difficult for him, Melvin said. Tracy will likely be shut down for about two more weeks. Up next: The National League West-leading D-backs head to San Diego for an important four-game series against the second-place Padres, starting with Monday's game at 7:05 p.m. MST at PETCO Park. Arizona's Livan Hernandez (9-8, 4.96 ERA) will get the ball against San Diego's Jake Peavy (14-5, 2.21). "It's big," said first baseman Conor Jackson. "It's hard to explain. You can't think about it in terms of it making or breaking the season because there's so many games left. It's going to either be cushion or it's going to go more the other way."
Michael Schwartz is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.