D-backs pitchers contributing with bat
And it's not just Owings who is getting big hits at key times
PHOENIX -- When the season started, the buzz about the D-backs lineup was that it could hurt you one through eight.
With nearly a month of games in the book, it appears that the ninth spot in the order can't be entirely ignored, as Arizona's pitchers have shown they can contribute to one of the National League's most prolific offenses.
D-backs pitchers lead the NL in batting average (.273), hits (15), runs (six), doubles (five) and total bases (20).
"It's been big for us," Arizona manager Bob Melvin said.
It's true that those impressive numbers have a little something to do with the inclusion of Micah Owings, who is more of a position player than a pitcher when it comes to hitting. Still, it's gone deeper than just Owings.
Each starter has at least one hit, and some have come at key times to drive in runs. Dan Haren had a big hit in Arizona's win Monday night, and Brandon Webb already has four RBIs.
"If you're able to move the runner over or drive him, it's important," said Webb. "It's going to keep you in the game longer if you can handle the bat and at least get a bunt down. We work hard at it."
The pitchers take batting practice before each home game, and that day's starter will also hit prior to a game on the road. They have a contest to see who winds up with the most hits and successful sacrifices during the season -- Owings is not allowed to participate -- and have fun talking smack during BP sessions, but it's also something they take very seriously.
Owings, who hit .333 with four homers and 15 RBIs last year, has been impressed by his fellow pitchers' performance thus far.
"I'm thrilled," Owings said. "Everybody in the rotation right now has got a hit. Some of them have come at key parts in the game. Anytime any of us are in the box and have a chance to help ourselves and the team out, it's great when we can. It's been fun to watch."
Steve Gilbert is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.