PHOENIX -- The ubiquitous Arizona-New York connections include:
D-backs interim manager Kirk Gibson and Mets skipper Jerry Manuel, both First-Year Player Draft picks of the Detroit Tigers, were teammates at Double-A Evansville in 1979. Gibson was a 22-year-old outfielder, Manuel a 25-year-old infielder.
D-backs interim general manager Jerry Dipoto, a former MLB reliever, pitched for the Mets in 1995 and 1996. Former Arizona third-base coach Chip Hale now holds the same position with New York. The first D-backs manager he served under, Bob Melvin, is now a Mets baseball scout.
D-backs reliever Aaron Heilman was the Mets' top 2001 First-Year Player Draft pick and spent his first six Major League seasons with the club.
D-backs starter Kris Benson pitched for New York in 2004 and '05.
Mets catcher Rod Barajas played on the D-backs' 2001 world championship club and from 1999-2003 overall.
Mets pitcher Elmer Dessens was a D-back from 2003 to 2004.
Mets rookie first baseman Ike Davis played collegiately in nearby Tempe for Arizona State.
Benson building steam while rehabbing
PHOENIX -- Rehabbing starting pitcher Kris Benson threw a two-inning simulated game on Tuesday afternoon at Chase Field prior to the D-backs' second of three games opposing the Mets.
"I felt great," the veteran right-hander said in the clubhouse, ice draped over his throwing shoulder. "I can see a huge difference between the first time that I tried to come back and this time."
Others see it, too.
"He looked good," said infielder Augie Ojeda, one of four D-backs reserves that stood in and swung against Benson. "His fastball was jumping up; he's got good action."
Since receiving a second cortisone shot in his strained right shoulder on June 18, Benson had thrown in the bullpen three times before Tuesday. He planned to work out in the 'pen on Thursday and toss 60 to 65 pitches against hitters again on Saturday.
Benson, who was placed on the 15-day disabled list on April 28 after three up-and-down big league starts, will require another Minor League rehab stint. Though Benson is building up his pitch count to be a starter, interim skipper Kirk Gibson said it was premature to discuss the club's plans for him. After all, it appears rookie Barry Enright, who started against the Mets on Tuesday, is entrenched as Arizona's No. 5 man.
Knuckler brings back memories for Gibson
PHOENIX -- As the D-backs were taking batting practice and preparing to face Mets' Tuesday starter and knuckleballer R.A. Dickey, their interim skipper looked as though he envied each and every one of them.
"I look at it as fun," Kirk Gibson said. "It's a challenge, and it's a little different. It's like having to play out of position in an extra-inning game. That's the way I look at it."
While he wouldn't advise all of his sluggers to make wholesale changes to their swings against Dickey, that's essentially what Gibson the player did -- especially against longtime knuckler Charlie Hough.
In order to stay back on Hough's patented pitch, Gibson recalled scratching out with his cleat the front chalk line of the batter's box: "Charlie was like [to the umpire], 'He's stepping out of the box!'"
"I changed my whole stance for a knuckleballer," he added. "It's maybe a little bit like you're in your backyard again.
"Generally, you do want [the pitch] up a little bit, because if it's low it's going to break down where you can't reach it."
For the record, Gibson batted .300 (12-for-40) with a home run all-time against Hough. He can only hope Arizona fares as well against Dickey (6-3, 2.63 ERA). Five D-backs faced Los Angeles Dodgers' knuckleballer Charlie Haeger, and two reached base safely.
D-backs' Rosales aiming for August rehab
PHOENIX -- D-backs reliever Leo Rosales has an itch to pitch, but he won't be able to scratch it for at least two more weeks.
Rosales, who is recovering from a stress fracture in his right ankle that has forced him to miss Arizona's last 70 games, said Monday he hopes to go out on a rehab appearance during the first week of August.
"They're taking precautions, I guess," Rosales said of the club's training staff. "I'm not too sure; I'm just doing what they tell me to do. ... We're just taking it step by step. I'm not trying to rush it."
Righty Rosales added that while his throwing arm feels fine -- he played catch again before the D-backs' series opener with the Mets on Monday -- his right ankle and leg need strengthening. The pitcher was on crutches, then in a protective boot until June 23.
"It's a big key for pitching," Rosales said of the leg, "especially for me, because I use it to drive, use it to drive off the mound."
Rosales compiled a 2-0 record and 8.10 ERA through nine appearances earlier this season. After allowing seven earned runs on April 28, he was placed on the 15-day disabled list and, on May 1, was transferred to the 60-day DL.
The D-backs' second- and third-round First-Year Player Draft selections, both high school pitchers, are off to rough starts for Class A Missoula: West Virginia's J.R. Bradley was 0-2 with a 8.49 ERA through four starts, while California's Robby Rowland was 0-2 with a 6.10 ERA through four of his own. Meanwhile, Rowland's brother, a catcher named Richie (.364 batting average with 18 RBIs after 25 games), has had few failures since signing a free-agent contract with Arizona. ... FOX Sports Arizona has agreed to broadcast the D-backs' Aug. 28 game against the San Francisco Giants. First pitch is 6:05 p.m. MST.
Andrew Pentis is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.