CHICAGO - The NFL rewards specialists in the Pro Bowl, and if major league baseball did the same, the Diamondbacks believe Tony Clark would be making a return trip to Detroit this season as a member of the National League All-Star team.
Clark, hitting .359 with 10 home runs and 33 RBIs, has been the most productive pinch-hitter in the majors this season with 11 hits in 23 at-bats, including three homers and 13 RBIs.
"Does he deserve (an All-Star appearance)? Absolutely,'' Troy Glaus said.
"All I can tell you is, he’s had as big an impact on this team as anybody here,'' manager Bob Melvin said.
"If there was an MVP for coming-off-the-bench guys, he'd have to be the unanimous pick,'' D-Backs general manager Joe Garagiola Jr. said. "There can't be anybody better in the league. Not to even mention his clubhouse presence and what he has brought to the team in that regard. He's such a great guy.''
Clark, who has a team-record five consecutive pinch hits, is expected to make his third straight start at designated hitter today while Chad Tracy plays first.
"I don't see any reason to take him out of there,'' Melvin said. "With both those guys in there, it makes our lineup much more formidable. We have a chance to score in every inning.''
FLOP THE DH
Melvin is a proponent of commissioner Bud Selig's proposal of using the designated hitter in National League parks and not in American League parks, as has been the norm since interleague play began in 1997.
"I think that's a good idea, I really do, because I think in cities where you play (the DH), you see that type of game all the time,'' Melvin said. "I think it's a good idea to flip-flop. That, or just play the National League game in every city.''
A GOOD FIRST IMPRESSION
In his first week in the D-Backs' system, shortstop Stephen Drew was named the California League's player of the week after hitting .417 with two home runs, eight RBIs and 10 runs scored at Class A Lancaster.
"Impressive. I'm sure he wanted to get off to a good start to show the kind of impact player he is,'' Melvin said.
Scouting director Mike Rizzo's original plan was to place Drew at Lancaster to get a gauge as to which level he fit best after sitting out most of the year following his selection in the 2004 draft, while keeping open the possibility of a promotion to Double-A Tennessee.
Asked about a possible trade to strengthen his bullpen, Melvin said: "I'm certainly not against it.''
Contrary to an ESPN report, however, the D-Backs have not spoken to Toronto about starter-turned-closer Miguel Batista, a former D-Back who makes $4.75 million this season and $4.75 million in 2006. The D-Backs did not offer Batista a contract when he became a free agent following the 2003 season.
Alex Cintron (left wrist) hit off a tee, played soft toss and participated in batting practice but was still too sore to play Tuesday, said Melvin, who added that he expected Cintron to be available today. . . .
Corona del Sol High School teachers Tim Smith, Mike Whirl and Andy Meyer attended the D-Backs-White Sox game Tuesday as part of a summer odyssey in which they hope to see nine major league games in eight days. They started in St. Louis on Sunday and hope to take in a doubleheader today, the Cubs-Marlins game at Wrigley Field this afternoon and the D-Backs-White Sox game tonight. When TV analyst Mark Grace heard that the group was concerned about getting tickets to the Cubs game today, he offered to pull a few strings if necessary. . . .
The D-Backs have signed draftees Cody Evans (10th round, Cal State-Long Beach right-hander), Rusty Royal (14th round, Oklahoma State infielder), Gregory Thomas (15th round, St. John's outfielder), Kyle Wright (19th round, Lewis & Clark right-hander), Vince Bongiovanni (24th round, Miami right-hander), Matt Fowls (27th round, Illinois State right-hander), Joel Melendez (28th round, Southeastern Community College outfielder), Aaron Gambia (48th round, left-hander) and free agent Ryan Doherty (Notre Dame, left-hander), who is 7-foot-1. . . .
Oscar Villarreal (right rotator cuff strain) is expected to throw off a mound today, Melvin said, the first time he has pitched off a mound since going on the disabled list the second week of the season.