Notes: Seitzer preaches patience
Hitting coach had a .375 lifetime on-base percentage
WASHINGTON -- First-year hitting coach Kevin Seitzer likes what he's seen so far from the D-backs' hitters.
"The boys are just having good ABs," Seitzer said. "They are just battling, battling, battling every pitch, every at-bat. We're not giving away ABs. That's the one thing that's impressed me the most with this whole group. I mean from Day 1 of Spring Training, first inning on, I see guys battling on every at-bat.
"That's all you can ask for as a hitting coach. Numbers and stats, I don't really get too caught up in it -- all I'm caring about is the quality of the ABs and making the little tweaks and adjustments throughout the game. As long as I see guys staying with their plan and putting up good ABs, that's all I care about."
The D-backs have shown patience at the plate, drawing 20 walks through their first five games, tied for tops in the Majors, and their team on-base percentage of .340 is tied for fifth in the National League.
"I think we're just scratching the surface right now at the start of the season with what we're going to be able to do offensively, because the weather is just brutal," Seitzer said of the cold temperatures in Denver and Washington. "If guys can have great at-bats in weather like this, then when we hit good weather it's going to be fun."
Seitzer finished his 12-year career with a .375 on-base percentage and he's set his sights similarly high for how the D-backs as a team (minus the pitcher's hitting stats) will finish the season. He thinks that the team could finish with a .370 on-base mark.
That's pretty heady stuff given that the 1998 Yankees, one of the best teams of this generation, had a .364 mark as a team.
"I don't know," Seitzer said. "I'm just remembering what I had [as a player] and I'm like, 'These suckers are more talented than I was,' so I'm thinking, 'Heck yeah.' Call me naïve, call me optimistic, call me whatever you want, but I know what kind of talent is on this team and I've got really high expectations."
Speaking of the offense: The D-backs had scored 26 runs entering Saturday's game, half of which have come with two outs.
"I don't think they are bearing down more with two outs than they are with no outs," Seitzer said. "It's just a matter of battling and having good ABs. That's what everybody is doing. They've got their approach, they've got a plan and they stick with it. If they get in a hole, they're scraping and scratching trying to hang in there and make something happen."
Brrrr: The wind chills were expected to dip into the high 20s Saturday night, compared with nighttime temperatures in the low 80s back in Phoenix.
"Would we prefer to be at home?" manager Bob Melvin asked. "Yeah. But I don't make the schedules and I know there's a reason for it. The schedule makers have a lot more to think about other than just the first few games of the season. I try not to think too much about it. I just go about my business on that day and try to win a game. If you think too much about it or feel sorry for yourself or whatever about where you started, it can affect your game and we don't want that. So where the schedule says we are, that's where we'll play.
Getting everyone involved: First baseman Tony Clark got his first start of the year as Melvin tries to keep his bench players sharp. It's likely that Brian Barden will get the start Sunday at third in place of Chad Tracy.
"Really, for the most part, you like to try to get everybody in a game or maybe even a start in the first week of the season," Melvin said. "Bench players are never more ready to play than they are when Spring Training ends and you want to try to keep that edge. You want everyone to feel involved. It is a 25-man team."
Up next: The D-backs close out this four-game set with the Nationals on Sunday afternoon and return to the Valley of the Sun for Monday's home opener.
Right-hander Livan Hernandez will face his former team in the series finale. Shawn Hill will start for the Nats.
Steve Gilbert is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.