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08/30/08 9:57 PM ET
D-backs seek more bench contributions
Pinch-hitters played big role in win over Dodgers on Friday
By Mike Ritter / MLB.com
PHOENIX -- Tony Clark has made a name for himself the past two years on the D-backs as an integral bench player. Not that Clark isn't equally important this season, but the D-backs have been pleased with the contributions from other bench players lately as well. On Friday night, the D-backs used four pinch-hitters, three of whom got on base and played key roles in the 9-3 win over the Dodgers. Most notable was Justin Upton. With the D-backs leading 4-3, Upton led off the seventh inning with a double on the first pitch he saw as he started a four-run inning, sealing the game. In the fifth inning, Jeff Salazar hit an RBI single, putting the D-backs ahead for good. With an outfield offensive logjam, Upton and Salazar likely will be used strictly as pinch-hitters in situational appearances. Although it may be a hard role to get used to, it's contributions such as those that the D-backs are hoping for down the stretch. "Last year, the production we got off our bench was important," D-backs manager Bob Melvin said. "It was an integral cog. We got a little bit in April, but really, for several months here, we haven't had a whole lot of production coming off the bench. Tony was basically the only guy I could go to. Chris Burke is my last infielder so it's difficult to use him." In Jamie D'Antona's earlier stint with the D-backs, he sought advice from veterans such as Clark on how to get used to preparing for just one at-bat a day. "Over the course of 162 games, you're going to need contributions across the board," Clark said. "I'm simply thankful that over the years of having that job, that I have something to offer."
Mike Ritter is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.