Notes: Melvin discusses Owings
D-backs manager keeps a close eye on rookie pitcher
PHILADELPHIA -- Manager Bob Melvin has enough confidence in his pitching staff to allow his starters to go deep into games if the situation warrants it, which has been the case a lot lately.Two different D-backs pitchers tossed complete games in the team's sweep of Houston. Melvin said the longevity has helped ease the burden of the bullpen, but that he still had a close eye on the pitch count of Micah Owings. The young pitcher went the distance against the Astros on Thursday, allowing only a run. But the 24-year-old was yanked after 2 2/3 innings in the outing before that, on May 19 against the Pirates. He allowed seven runs and walked four during the abbreviated stint. Melvin said he will continue to watch Owings' progress with interest, while allowing his experienced starters more freedom. "The other four guys have a history of doing this and are used to going out and putting up that number of pitches, and used to going out and pitching seven, eight innings," said the D-backs manager. "[Owings is] the guy we kind of look at to limit the innings, so to speak. He threw 140 [innings] -- or whatever it was -- last year. Being a young guy, first time at the big-league level with this type of season, he's the one guy we keep an eye on a little more than the other guys. " Livan Hernandez matched Owings with a complete game on Sunday. Hernandez had gone eight innings his prior start, and seven innings in the outing before that. Nothing new there. Owings' complete game was his first, but Melvin said he had no second thoughts about leaving his pitcher out here. "We had planned to take him out after the eighth, and he wanted to go back out there," Melvin said. Whether Arizona's pitchers continue going deep rests on a few factors: 2006 Cy Young-winner Brandon Webb should start Friday at the Mets, but is recovering from a not-too-serious, but ugly, bruise to his non-throwing arm suffered from a line drive off the bat of Lance Berkman. Veteran Randy Johnson dealt with a bout of tendinitis last week. And then there's Doug Davis, who lost his previous three starts heading into Monday's game. Quentin sticking with one approach: Credit D-backs hitting coach Kevin Seitzer for Carlos Quentin's newfound comfort at the plate. Quentin said Seitzer helped him form a consistent approach, and it helped him go 6-for-11 at the plate the last three games of Arizona's sweep of Houston. The right fielder drove in five runs, cranked a home run and did not strike out in that span. He raised his average to .227. "You start looking for whatever you can to get something going," said Quentin, who was hitless in the two games prior to his breakout against the Astros. "Sometimes that's not the best thing for you to do. I think I've gotten in that mind-set a little bit better." About those banged-up pitchers: Johnson threw about 50 pitches in the bullpen prior to Monday's game in preparation for his expected start against the Phillies on Wednesday. The veteran lefty missed his last scheduled start with tendinitis in his left forearm. He had a cortisone shot on May 22. Webb is still sporting a nasty bruise on his left (non-throwing) forearm. But Melvin said Webb was treated with a patch that employed an anti-inflammatory medication, which seemed to be working. He could start Friday against the Mets. This and that: Chad Tracy (sore rib cage) is expected to take live batting practice Tuesday. Melvin said the next step would be tossing, and that Tracy likely won't be in the lineup this weekend at New York. ... Chris Young is back after missing time with an injured groin, but Melvin said Young could play two games and then take one off for a span until the soreness leaves.
Up next: Owings will take the mound against the Phillies on Tuesday for the second time this season. He beat Philadelphia on May 8 by allowing two runs over seven innings. Owings tossed the first complete game of his Major League career in his last outing against the Astros. The right-hander scattered nine hits and walked one while striking out eight. He threw a career-high 118 pitches in the game.
Stephen Fastenau is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.