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12/08/08 11:59 PM EST

Clark, D-backs discuss deal for '09

Melvin says first baseman has 'decent chance' at re-signing

LAS VEGAS -- The D-backs and free-agent first baseman Tony Clark have discussed a contract that would keep the first baseman in an Arizona uniform in 2009.

"I think Tony has got a decent chance to sign back with us," D-backs manager Bob Melvin said when asked about Clark during his meeting with the media at the Winter Meetings. "He's a guy that we realized the importance of a couple of years ago -- a veteran guy who is not only extremely important in the clubhouse, but he gives us a veteran presence off the bench whether it's pinch-hitting, whether it's spot starts.

"I think it's a lot easier for a veteran to be able to come off the bench and play in that role rather than younger guys. So I think there's a good chance he ends up being a good fit again for us this year."

Clark and D-backs general manager Josh Byrnes have talked several times, including once face-to-face, since the end of the season.

The 36-year-old was reticent to talk about his negotiations with Byrnes but did acknowledge them.

"I have had talks with Josh and am hopeful of being a Diamondback during the 2009 season," Clark told MLB.com.

Clark was a key contributor for the D-backs from 2005 through 2007 but reluctantly left as a free agent last year, signing with the Padres after negotiations with Arizona broke down.

"Last year, we just weren't as good in the last third of the game as we needed to be and there were probably a lot of reasons for that," Byrnes said. "One of them is that we didn't score enough late in the game and, obviously, Tony has a history of helping teams do a little more offensively late in games."

The D-backs re-acquired Clark last July and he hit .206 in limited playing time.

Steve Gilbert is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.