DENVER - As a kid, Scott Hairston was in the left-field bleachers on opening day. This opening day, he will be in left field. “It’s something I’ve been dreaming about since I was a kid,” Hairston said.
“I used to go to Comiskey Park on opening day every year. To be part of that was special. It would be extra special getting a start. I can’t wait.”
Hairston is among a dozen Diamondbacks – Brian Barden, Alberto Callaspo, Stephen Drew, Edgar Gonzalez, Robby Hammock, Miguel Montero, Dustin Nippert, Tony Peña, Doug Slaten and Chris Young and injured Carlos Quentin are the others – who will spend their first opening day in the major leagues today.
“There will be a good feeling for a lot of us,” said Hairston, who entered the spring out of options and understood that there was a slight possibility he could have been traded.
“I expected to be in the big leagues with somebody. I didn’t know if it would be the Diamondbacks. I’m happy it is here.”
BACK FOR GOOD
Chip Hale made his major league coaching debut at Coors Field last season while filling in for Carlos Tosca, but this time he is here for the long haul.
One of three new coaches to join the D-Backs this season, Hale was named the third base coach when Tosca was hired by Florida. In baseball circles, Hale is considered a possible managerial candidate.
“When you start your whole climb again as a coach or a manager, your goal is to get back to the big leagues and be part of a championship effort,” said Hale, who spent parts of seven seasons in the major leagues after winning a College World Series with Arizona in 1986.
“I’ve seen most of the young kids come through the system and we’re excited about them.”
Hale won 98 games as manager at Triple-A Tucson last season, and his familiarity with many of the young players also jumping to the majors makes him a valuable commodity, Melvin said.
“He’s someone who has experience with these guys when they are struggling and when they are going well,” Melvin said. “Any extra background you can have on a guy is very helpful.”
No. 5 starter Micah Owings will travel with the team to Colorado and Washington but will not be activated until April 6, the day of his initial start. He is likely to replace Dustin Nippert on the roster. …
Randy Johnson admitted Saturday that he had hoped to pitch on the D-Backs’ first homestand April 9-17 but a “slight setback” after his first batting practice session threw him off that pace. He talked about making his first start April 18 or 19, and GM Josh Byrnes said: “It’s conceivable. The first two times out have been very good. He as well as anyone will know when he is ready to get in the regular-season routine. We’ll continue to talk about it.” …
Switch-hitter Callaspo is the only player on the roster who provides a left-handed hitting option in the outfield, although he has played the outfield sparingly, and could be used in the outfield on double-switches or even as a starter if the matchup is right.
Diamondbacks at Rockies
Probable starters: Arizona’s Brandon Webb (16-8, 3.10 last season) made his first career opening day start here last year, when he gave up one run but did not get a decision. He was 1-1 with three quality starts against the Rockies last year and has a 7-4 career record against them. Colorado’s Aaron Cook (9-15, 4.23) was 1-3 against the D-Backs last season to even his career record to 3-3 against them.
Rest of the series: Tuesday, 5:35 p.m.: RH Livan Hernandez (13-13, 4.83) vs. LH Jeff Francis (13-11, 4.16). Wednesday, 12:05 p.m.: LH Doug Davis (11-11, 4.91) vs. RH Rodrigo Lopez (9-18, 5.90).
Diamondbacks opening day starters: SS Stephen Drew, RF Eric Byrnes, 2B Orlando Hudson, 3B Chad Tracy, LF Scott Hairston, 1B Conor Jackson, CF Chris Young, C Chris Snyder,
Colorado scouting report: The Rockies added former D-Backs Gold Glover Steve Finley to their major league roster the last few days of spring training, making Finley the first player to play for each of the five NL West teams. … The Rockies open the season with a new rotation after trading Jason Jennings to Houston in the offseason, fearing they could lose him to free agency after 2007. Former Astro Jason Hirsch will join the rotation in Jennings’ place, and former Astro Willy Taveras will play center field and lead off. … The Rockies figure to run more with Taveras and Kaz Matsui hitting 1-2 in the order. … Cleanup hitter Todd Helton is hitting .329 since 2000, the best in the majors. … No. 3 hitter Garrett Atkins had an NL-high 102 hits after the 2006 All-Star break.