Day games tough at Dodger Stadium
D-backs infielders cope with unusual background
LOS ANGELES -- The setting for Opening Day at Dodger Stadium on Tuesday was beautiful -- bright sunshine and a full house.It was great for everyone but the infielders. The light-yellow lower-bowl seats combined with the sun and the fact that there is no wall behind home plate combine to make it difficult for infielders to see the ball off the bat. D-backs shortstop Stephen Drew has dreaded day games at the stadium for the last few years, and in Tuesday's opener, second baseman Kelly Johnson had to dive for a ball hit to his right after not initially seeing it. "Usually there's a fence or something behind the plate and they'll put something on it," Johnson said. "They don't have anything here. So the person sitting in the front row, all that is between them and the field is a net. The ball is coming right out of the people who are usually wearing white or light clothing. Plus you've got the sun. It's different than every place else." Johnson sought some advice from Dodgers shortstop Rafael Furcal. "He said just to focus down, see the ball down on the ground and anticipate that it's going to be hit on the ground. That way you're not looking at the broad picture," he said. "That seems to help a little bit."
Montero's injury limited to meniscus
LOS ANGELES -- It wasn't exactly good news, but it was the best the D-backs could have gotten under the circumstances.Orthopedic specialist Lewis Yocum agreed with D-backs team doctor Michael Lee that catcher Miguel Montero's right knee injury was limited to the meniscus and did not involve any ligaments. Lee will perform surgery on Montero on Thursday morning in Phoenix. "It was as good of bad news as you can get," Arizona manager A.J. Hinch said. "It's encouraging to be able to get him surgery now and start the recovery process." The estimate on how long the rehab process will be is four to six weeks, but given the stress a catcher puts on his knees, it could take longer. "It's probably the worst position to have a knee issue," said Hinch, a former big league catcher. Montero suffered the injury last Saturday while trying to leg out a ground ball. The torn meniscus was diagnosed the following morning, but as is typical, Montero sought a second opinion. As the days went on, though, Montero started getting anxious. "He feels like every day he's missing, he's missing on the back end," Hinch said. "So we'll get him healthy as quickly as we can."
Johnson departs early with stiff back
LOS ANGELES -- D-backs second baseman Kelly Johnson left Wednesday night's game against the Dodgers in the sixth inning with stiffness in his back.Johnson walked in the fourth and doubled in the sixth before being taken out in favor of Augie Ojeda at the end of the inning. "It stiffened up," Johnson said. "Nothing unusual, no weird swing, no any one thing that happened -- just kind of gradually got more and more stiff. It just got to a point where moving side to side mobility-wise wasn't good at all." Johnson is listed as day-to-day and the team does not seem to think it will keep him out of the lineup for a prolonged period of time. "I don't think it's serious," Johnson said. "Just being cautious."
Toy helps D-backs 'dispose' of bad at-bats
LOS ANGELES -- Flush it away.That's what D-backs hitting coach Jack Howell wants his hitters to do after a bad or frustrating at-bat. This spring, Howell found a way to illustrate that point so that everyone could visualize it. The former big league third baseman ordered a small toy toilet that makes a flushing sound when you press the handle. "Looking back on last year, I thought we as a team and as a coaching staff I think we kind of let past things linger on," said Howell, who joined the staff May 9 when hitting coach Rick Schu was dismissed along with manager Bob Melvin. "I thought there were some of us, and I include myself, where you keep thinking about the missed opportunities, then all of a sudden a new opportunity comes up and that slips by, too." Howell placed the toy on top of the Gatorade jug and throughout the spring he would remind hitters to "flush that at-bat" and therefore have a better "plate presence" the next time up. It didn't take long for it to catch on among the guys. "Spring it was getting flushed like crazy," he said. Now that the intensity has picked up with the start of the regular season, there's less actual flushing, but the message has stuck. "More now it sits there as a reminder," Howell said. "This is more just something that we can have fun with. They've understood it."
Steve Gilbert is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.