DENVER - Mark Grace's final big-league start could come Saturday.
Grace, the veteran first baseman who has had a disappointing season for the Diamondbacks, is expected to resolve his future soon. He has been contemplating retirement, after which he would likely stay on with the organization in some capacity.
In case this is his final weekend, Grace will see some playing time.
“He's going to start Saturday, definitely,” manager Bob Brenly said Thursday. “(Today) will probably just be business as usual. We'll use him as we see fit. And we'll see what happens on Sunday.”
Grace declined comment Thursday regarding his future.
Meanwhile, the one-time heir apparent at first base — Lyle Overbay — said he will take the offseason to clear his mind. He also hopes to get stronger so he can drive the ball better, especially the other way to left field.
Overbay was the opening day first baseman but was sent down July 23 and recalled for September.
“I wasn't really consistent this whole year,” said Overbay, who went 1-for-3 with two walks Thursday. “After that hamstring (injury in late April, when he had a .351 average) I never was consistent.
“I'll just get this year over with and come back next year with a fresh start.”
IN A PINCH
Pinch-hitting specialist Carlos Baerga wants to return to the Diamondbacks, and Brenly seemed to give an indirect endorsement Thursday.
“That always amazes me,” Brenly said, “the good pinch hitters in baseball, how they're able to go two, three or four days without seeing live pitching and you send them up there in the eighth or ninth inning against a tough reliever and they will square it up like they've been playing every day. And Carlos is one of those guys.”
Baerga, who had an RBI pinch single in Thursday's seventh inning, has a .321 pinch-hitting average — best of any major leaguer with 40 or more plate appearances as a pinch hitter. He needs one more pinch hit to tie the team record of 18, set by David Dellucci in 2001.
“You have to embrace that role, too,” Brenly said. “Carlos understands at this stage of his career what his value is and what he's good at, and he loves it.
“He's the best cheerleader in baseball on the bench for the first eight innings and one of the most dangerous hitters in the last inning. I think he enjoys that role and I know the guys on the team love having him around.”
Said Baerga: “I love my teammates here. . . . I would like to be a part of it next year again.”
Baerga made $500,000 this season, plus $25,000 for reaching 200 plate appearances.
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