Notes: Buzz building for Unit's debut
Hammock to get first start of '07; hitters not panicking
SAN FRANCISCO -- There figures to be a buzz in the air at Chase Field on Tuesday night, when the D-backs open a three-game series against the Padres.
With Randy Johnson on the mound, there usually is.
The Big Unit will make his season debut and his first appearance in a D-backs uniform since the end of the 2004 season. Johnson was reacquired by Arizona from the Yankees in a January trade. Back surgery, which he had in October, put him a bit behind the other pitchers during Spring Training, but after his third Minor League rehab game last week, he should be caught up.
Though he was on the disabled list at the time, Johnson received the biggest ovation of any player when he was introduced prior to the team's home opener.
"Why not?" manager Bob Melvin said. "This is a guy that's done a lot of great things in Arizona, won Cy Youngs, World Series MVP. I know a lot of times there's a little different energy in our ballpark when he's on the mound. At least that's the way it's been in the past."
Johnson was 17-11 with a 5.00 ERA for the Yankees last season. During his six years with the D-backs, he won four National League Cy Young Awards.
Familiar face: Look for Robby Hammock to get his first start of the year behind the plate on Tuesday with Johnson starting for Arizona and David Wells starting for the Padres.
Hammock and Johnson worked very well together in 2004, and it was Hammock who caught Johnson's perfect game that year.
"He's got good numbers off Wells, a history with Randy, so it's a good time to get him a start," Melvin said of Hammock.
Hammock is the only D-backs player not to have started a game yet this season.
No panic: The numbers aren't pretty for some of the Arizona hitters so far this year, but hitting coach Kevin Seitzer says that beyond the numbers, there are some positives to be found.
Young players Stephen Drew (.202), Conor Jackson (.232), Carlos Quentin (.190) and Chris Young (.189), in particular, have struggled.
"With all the balls Stephen's hit hard, he could be hitting .290," Seitzer said. "We took him out of the leadoff spot a couple of days ago, and I think that will help mentally."
Jackson is getting close, Seitzer said, whereas Quentin is still getting his legs under him after starting the year on the disabled list. Quentin went 4-for-7 in his first two games but has since gone 0-for-14.
"I was shocked [at] the at-bats he had the first two games back because of how long he'd been out," Seitzer said. "Now he's just a tick off."
Young was leading the league in RBIs before tweaking a groin muscle and having to miss three games.
"That dude is hitting .150, or whatever, and watching his at-bats, you'd think he was hitting .290," Seitzer said. "His confidence is as high as anybody hitting under .200 that I've ever been around. He feels great about himself, he feels great about his swing. He was catching fire right when he got hurt."
So for now, Seitzer will continue to urge his guys to focus on each at-bat and not the numbers.
"You can't do anything about hitting balls at people," he said. "All I can ask for is quality at-bats, and that's what I feel like we're getting."
Quick trip: Mike Schultz's stay in the big leagues didn't last long, as the right-hander was optioned back to Triple-A Tucson on Saturday night after being called up on Friday.
Schultz did get to make his Major League debut on Friday night, and it was an impressive one. After allowing a leadoff single to Ray Durham, Schultz got Bengie Molina to ground into a double play and fanned Pedro Feliz.
"He knew he was only going to be here for a short period of time, and to go in there and have that type of inning that he did going down, now all of a sudden, you have the confidence that you can pitch at the big-league level," Melvin said. "Once he comes back here, whenever that is, that kind of success would be good for him."
Up next: The D-backs get a day off on Monday before returning to action on Tuesday at 6:40 p.m. MST against the Padres.
Steve Gilbert is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.