10/03/07 11:22 PM ET
Melvin pregame interview
D-backs manager discusses his roster prior to Game 1
By / MLB.com
BOB MELVIN: Well, it was whether or not we keep Bonny or go with 10 pitchers. Obviously Bonny (Bonifacio) would add quite a few dimensions that we don't have here, particularly the speed dimension. But ten pitchers can be a little bit uncomfortable. I mean, we've taxed the back end of our bullpen pretty well this year. We've played some games where we've gotten beat up a little bit.
So just as far as comfortability, it's a little bit easier on me to have 11 pitchers, although you'd love to have a dimension that Bonny gives you. We just feel a little bit more secure with 11 pitchers.
Can you talk about how exciting it is for the city, for the Diamondbacks to be in the playoffs? We were a little spoiled early on, and everybody is excited about this.
BOB MELVIN: Yeah, there's no doubt, including the players, everybody in the support staff, the whole group around here. This is a very exciting time for us, to be able to play a team with the history that the Cubs have with a bit of a following around here obviously, spring training and so forth, so it's very, very exciting.
First time post season in the red uniforms and all that, different group, so it's a little bit different than the past where it's been a little bit more veteran oriented, where this has been a little bit more youth oriented, but same type of excitement.
I was here back in '01 and '02 during those times, when it was very, very exciting. Same type of feel right now, but it's a little bit of a different group.
Can you just touch on the difference between the '01 team and this team? Obviously a lot of super stars on that team with Curt, Randy, Luis and so on, and obviously not that many big names on this team?
BOB MELVIN: Yeah, you know, from the uniforms on down to the players it's completely different. It's a complete 180, yet same results here. We had a bit of a higher payroll back in the earlier days, where now it's scaled down, one, out of necessity, two, out of the group that we have here, but same type of excitement.
It's just a completely different type of feeling within the clubhouse and so forth with having a younger group, a little bit more enthusiastic, not as much experience, but we'll err on the side of aggressiveness here.
Late in the year you moved Chris Young out of the leadoff spot for a while. I think Byrnes maybe -- was it Byrnes you added there? What was your thinking? Were you just trying to take some different looks?
BOB MELVIN: Just really trying to take a little pressure off him. He was struggling at the time and was, I think, feeling like he needed really to do some things, that he can't be the sole guy to produce here, and I felt like he just needed a little bit of a break, a little bit of a distance from that spot.
He got hot again and we moved him back in it. He's probably not your prototypical lead off guy, sort of like their guy in Soriano. Both these guys add a different dimension that most lead off guys don't have, that they can hit the ball out of the ballpark.
Whether or not he remains a lead off hitter remains to be seen. I think he's comfortable there right now. And the way our lineup shakes out he's probably the guy for the job, yet down the road he could be a middle of the order guy with the power that he has, just more distance than anything else.
Did Micah's ability to hit have any influence on your 14/11 decision?
BOB MELVIN: You know, it certainly is a factor that we can use him as a pinch hitter, but it was more the speed dimension we were looking for with Bonny, and whether or not we wanted to go one less pitcher.
That variable with Micah is always going to be there. We thought about it some, but it didn't really influence the decision too much.
The Cubs are starting a rookie catcher. Is that something you might be able to take advantage of, or is that going to depend on who the rookie is?
BOB MELVIN: You know, experience obviously has something it plays out in the playoffs. We have quite a few rookies over there on our own. You know, Zambrano can be a tough guy to run on. He's very quick to the plate. There have been very few attempts on him this year.
If you're talking about potentially trying to take advantage of a younger guy back there and run some, and we'll see how the game plays out, whether or not we need to try to put some pressure on. But like I said, he's very quick to the plate. If ever there's a time to have a catcher back there, and you don't have to worry about throwing it with a guy like Zambrano.
He's basically the one really young guy, inexperienced guy they have, where we have several of them out there today.
Why Tony Clark tonight?
BOB MELVIN: Well, Tony has been very productive here the last month, basically the whole year for us, so has Conor. Both those guys, between the two of them, put up big numbers for us at the first base position.
At times with Webby I'll kind of err on defense, which Conor has made significant strides this year. Tony really is a plus plus defender. I think he makes everybody across the infield a lot better with his wingspan and so forth. Typically the ball is on the ground a quite bit with Webby on the mound, and he is a presence for us.
I think it's a great day to be able to play him, and all things considered, the left rights, the defense, what he brings to the table for us all went into the decision, and I was happy to be able to write his name in the lineup today, our first playoff game at home.
Can you talk a little bit more about Tony Clark, not only what he brings to the table on the field but off the field as well, being a veteran and one of the leaders on this club?
BOB MELVIN: Yeah, he's our father figure around here. He's a sounding board for the players, whether it's on the field, off the field, at times if they have issues about coming to talk to the coach or the manager, he has kind of been the sounding board.
I think stability with him on the field in the first day of the playoffs playing into it as well, and he brings that whether he's on the field or in the clubhouse.
Did you see anything different from Doug Davis in the second half of the year versus the first?
BOB MELVIN: Well, he had a stretch there where he's pitched as well as anybody probably in the League for a while, and I think soon thereafter after Randy went down, maybe a little bit later, he went on a nice run that kind of bridged the gap of losing a guy like Randy Johnson.
So he's done exactly as advertised: He gives us innings, he gives us wins, he takes the ball out there, takes the pressure off the bullpen, and is a guy you can count on. He's had stretches where he's been good and bad, but you add them all up over the course of the season, he's been a very stable guy for us.
That's what went into the decision of trading for him in the off season, is we needed some guys that could take some of the pressure off the bullpen that we've had here in the past. He's been very, very good for us.
Thoughts on Soriano? This is a guy that in '01 as a youngster almost won Game 7 with a home run as you probably remember. A lot of people have forgotten, he put them ahead. What's your thoughts on Soriano in this series?
BOB MELVIN: Just a dangerous guy to deal with, whether it's his legs, whether it's his power, whether it's the presence he brings. You know, that was a bad feeling when the ball left the ballpark here. I think everybody on our bench looked down to the bullpen, saw Rivera get up, so it wasn't the greatest feeling in the world, and it was a pretty good pitch at that, ball was down, split finger, I believe, from Schilling.
So he's a guy you have to be very careful with, and typically that's more so for guys in the middle of the lineup. But a guy that leads off that you know if you make a bad pitch it's going to end up in the seats kind of adds a little different dimension. They have a bunch of different weapons over there.
It starts with him, and a lot of times how he's playing ends up to be how their club plays.
Courtesy of FastScripts by ASAP Sports. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.