Notes: Melvin goes with 11 pitchers
Hammock added to playoff roster; Montero set to pinch-hit
PHOENIX -- In the end, it came down to comfort, and the fact is, D-backs manager Bob Melvin was not comfortable going into the National League Division Series against the Cubs with just 10 pitchers on the roster.
So with that in mind, the D-backs decided to keep right-handed reliever Dustin Nippert as the 11th pitcher and deactivate infielder Emilio Bonifacio.
"It's a low number, I think," Melvin said of carrying 10 pitchers. "So we'll just see how this one plays out and if we're lucky enough to get into another round, than we'll reconsider."
One of the factors is that the D-backs have had their share of blowout losses this year and the last thing Melvin wants to do is use one of his Big Three relievers -- Tony Pena, Brandon Lyon or Jose Valverde -- in a game that is out of hand.
Speaking of the roster: As expected, the versatile Robby Hammock was added to the roster. Hammock can catch as well as play both corners in the outfield and infield, making him a valuable player.
Hammock's story is also compelling. He became a fan favorite when he came up during the 2003 season as part of the club's "Baby Backs" youth movement. Expected to be the Opening Day catcher in 2004, he suffered a knee injury prior to Spring Training and spent the first part of the season on the DL and was never fully healthy.
He was released during the offseason and re-signed to a Minor League deal after the start of the regular season. Shoulder surgery kept him off the field for the entire season and after spending the 2005 season with Triple-A Tucson, he got a September call up and appeared in just one game.
This year, he made the team out of Spring Training, but in June was demoted to Tucson, where he remained until September.
Melvin was so excited to tell Hammock that he was on the roster that he gave him the news when the team was in Colorado to end the regular season.
"It is nice to be able to reward a guy like that, who has come so far back from injuries and being off the roster, making the team out of spring and then having to go down and spend the rest of the summer there," Melvin said. "It was a rewarding conversation."
"I'm just so thankful to be a part of this," Hammock said.
Good for Miggy: The presence of Hammock on the roster will allow Melvin to use backup catcher Miguel Montero as a pinch-hitter earlier in the game.
Montero hit .350 (7-for-20) off the bench with three home runs during the regular season.
"He's kind of my left-handed bat off the bench when and if I need him," Melvin said. "He had an nice year pinch-hitting."
Getting work in: Game 4 starter Micah Owings threw 35 pitches in a simulated game Wednesday afternoon in an attempt to stay sharp.
Owings' last regular-season start came on Sept. 27 in Pittsburgh, which means he'll have eight days off before his Sunday start at Wrigley Field.
It's not a new situation for Owings, who has had extra rest before his final two starts of the year and tossed 15 1/3 innings in those games without allowing a run.
"It's just all about getting a feel for your pitches and getting some work in," Owings said.
Hammock was one of the hitters who stepped in against Owings.
"Until you face a pitcher, you don't know how he gets people out," Hammock said. "And today I realized how his ball is just deceptive. The movement he has is late movement, and I understand why he gets people out now."
Speaking of Owings: Owings is a threat with the bat, having hit .333 with four home runs and 15 RBIs in 60 at-bats this year. Melvin has used him as a pinch-hitter four times during the season and could do so again during this series.
"I'll have my spikes on every day and be ready," Owings said.
First pitch: Two players from the 2001 world championship team, Jay Bell and Matt Williams, will throw out the first pitch for Game 2.
Bell scored the winning run in Game 7 of the 2001 World Series with Williams, the on-deck hitter, there to greet him.
Tickets: Game 1 was a sellout and as of early Wednesday evening, only 2,000 tickets remained for Game 2.
Roof: The roof was scheduled to be open for Game 1. With rain in the forecast for Thursday, D-backs team president Derrick Hall said a game-time decision will be made regarding the roof.
Grass is greener: Head groundskeeper Grant Trenbeath and his crew has been overseeding the field with rye grass for the past three-plus weeks and the result is a greener looking field.
There is a little disease in the infield rye grass, which makes for some dark spots, but other than that, Trenbeath is pleased with the condition of the field.
"We've come a long way from three or four weeks ago, when we had that rough stretch with 15 games in 21 days," Trenbeath said. "We've been growing rye grass pretty consistently over the past three and half weeks, so we've come a long way, cosmetically speaking."
Coming up: Left-hander Doug Davis will make the start in Game 2 of the NLDS against Cubs southpaw Ted Lilly. Game time is 7 p.m. MST on Thursday.
Steve Gilbert is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.