MILWAUKEE • Tony Clark slept through a scheduled lunch with ex-teammate Craig Counsell and several Diamondbacks on Wednesday, but it was understandable. He had been up all night digesting the Tuesday loss.
Given the professional that Clark is, his inability to deliver with runners in scoring position kept him up until dawn, he said. He was 0-for-3 in those situations Tuesday as the D-Backs continued in a season-long funk, their .236 average with runners in scoring position a major-league low.
“It is more of a mental approach, a mental game plan,” Clark said of the proper strategy.
“The trick is when the game speeds up, and the first guy doesn’t get a hit and the second guy doesn’t get a hit, rather than focusing in on 'I have to get a hit,’ you focus on what you have to do to be successful in that situation.
“As I say that, I’m reminding myself. You can work too hard to be a hero. That’s when the pitcher can use that aggressiveness against you.”
Eric Byrnes (.319) and Orlando Hudson (.274) are the only regulars hitting above .257 with runners in scoring position. Chris Young (.155; 9-58) is 0 for his last 20 with two walks and a sacrifice fly.
If the D-Backs and Eric Byrnes cannot agree on a contract extension in a brief window that could close any day, Byrnes admitted the odds of him returning next year lessen considerably.
“If it doesn’t get done, it still doesn’t mean that I’m not coming back,” he said. “What it does mean is there is a much bigger chance that I won’t be back. That’s reality.”
Byrnes, hitting .312 with 14 home runs, 51 RBIs and 23 stolen bases, seems to be rapidly pricing himself into $10 million-a-year territory or beyond.
Byrnes is the only NL outfielder with at least 12 homers and 20 stolen bases.
A LOGICAL MATCH?
If the D-Backs are looking to unblock their corner infield spots in a trade before the July 31 non-waiver deadline, Minnesota would seem an attractive partner, although the D-Backs seem more likely to put off any major deal until the offseason, when they are likely to know more about Randy Johnson’s status.
The Twins appear to be in need of a bat to help first baseman Justin Morneau, catcher Joe Mauer, center fielder Torii Hunter and right fielder Michael Cuddyer, and could need a large offensive infusion if Hunter leaves as expected via free agency this winter.
Minnesota has a bevy of young starting pitchers, including Scott Baker, Boof Bonser Matt Garza, Glen Perkins and Kevin Slowey.
A top corner such as Chad Tracy or Conor Jackson is likely to command more than an inexperienced major league starter, however.
Minnesota general manager Terry Ryan has told the Minnesota media he would be very reluctant to deal one of his young arms.
JOHNSON RECOVERS WELL
Randy Johnson (herniated disk) felt only normal soreness while playing catch Wednesday, Melvin said, an encouraging sign the day after Johnson’s first bullpen session Tuesday.
“The fact that he threw a significant bullpen and was able to play catch today makes me feel a lot better,” Melvin said. “I felt the first bullpen would have a lot to say about where he was going.”
Johnson is tentatively scheduled to play catch again today and throw a second bullpen Friday. He is expected to throw at least one more bullpen and at least one simulated game before he can be slotted back into the rotation.
Melvin, on his failure to talk to the media after Tuesday’s loss: “That was one very frustrating game for us.” Melvin had some quick words for the players afterward, “but it was more for them than anyone else.” …
Carlos Quentin began serving a three-game suspension Tuesday after being involved in a dispute with Colorado Springs pitcher Josh Newman last Saturday.
Quentin, hit for the third time in two games Saturday, exchanged words with Newman, who gestured to Quentin to come out to the mound. Benches emptied but no punches were thrown.
Quentin is hitting .333 with one homer and seven RBIs in 10 games since being optioned to the Sidewinders on July 6.