Melvin has faith in D-backs' rookies
Young, Drew lead crop of talented Arizona youngsters
CHICAGO -- By his own admission, Arizona third baseman Mark Reynolds' confidence was sinking faster than his batting average this summer when he received a much-needed vote of confidence from his manager, Bob Melvin.
"He kept telling me I was the third baseman and they were going with me and not going to worry about anything," Reynolds said, noting a midsummer slump where he hit just .162 in June and .194 in July.
"So that gave me the confidence to go out and perform. Even if I went 0-for-4, I knew that I would still be playing. He's been the key component to my success this year."
Melvin's faith in his fresh-faced rookies and the other younger players on his roster has certainly been repaid nicely, as youngsters like Stephen Drew, Chris Young and Justin Upton were more than just warm bodies in Arizona's three-game sweep of the Cubs, a sweep punctuated by Saturday's 5-1 victory at Wrigley Field.
Young hit two home runs, including one to start the game Saturday. Drew hit .500 in the series and Upton had three hits in six at-bats.
"We have a veteran influence," Melvin said. "But our young guys are taking us where we've gotten. You can see it's almost day-to-day, you can see some of these guys get experience and grow and mature as players in a short period of time."
Melvin has shown faith in his younger players, even in critical times when maybe the smarter move would have been to lean on veterans instead of relying so heavily on youth.
"He never loses confidence, even when you're struggling," said Upton. "He allows us to be aggressive and play our game. I think that's the beauty of being young and being aggressive. When you have a manager who will recognize and who will let you be aggressive, it's great."
Pundits argued all season that the Diamondbacks would wilt under the pressure of games that meant something, those pressure-packed contests late in the season where the cream typically rises to the top.
But the Diamondbacks never faltered, not even in baseball's most competitive division, the National League West, where less than two games separated Arizona, Colorado and San Diego.
How did they do it? Melvin said part of the key is letting the young players play instead of forcing them to conform to his master plan of managing. In reality, there is no such plan.
"I think it's more about the group that you have," Melvin said. "They don't have to come in and acclimate to how I want to do things, I have to acclimate to the group. We do have a lot of inexperience this year, yet we felt like as a staff we could probably influence this group more so than other groups, you know, where once you get to the big league level, you have a few years in, you do things a certain way."
"It's been a very rewarding year as far as my managerial seasons. I think this is the most fun we've had, because we have had an influence over these guys -- there's been a lot of energy and a lot of excitement."
Corey Brock is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.