CHICAGO - Bob Melvin broke out lineup No. 90 Saturday in the Diamondbacks’ 99th game as part of his dual charge, to win games while putting his younger players in the best position to thrive.
“That’s one of the most difficult things right now,” Melvin said. “You expect to win. You prepare to win. Yet you still have to play guys while they are here.
“It’s impossible to run an everyday lineup out there. We know it. They know it. The guys we have here now, everybody has to play. Therefore, the juggling part.”
With Chad Tracy (knee) out, Conor Jackson hit cleanup for the 10th time this season Saturday, a nod to his career success in Wrigley Field (.316).
Mark Reynolds hit fifth, and Scott Hairston played left field while Eric Byrnes was in right against left-hander Rich Hill.
“You don’t want Mark Reynolds to sit for four days in a row. You don’t want Conor Jackson to sit for three days in a row. Those guys need to play and develop,” Melvin said.
It has been a season-long balancing act for Melvin, who has used 11 players at the No. 7 spot in the lineup and 10 at Nos. 5, 6, and 8.
Juan Cruz has made 32 relief appearances this season – all in relief, never in a save situation, five times when his team was ahead – but had a curious response when asked Saturday what he felt about his role.
“What is my role?” Cruz asked.
You would think he would know by now.
Cruz (4-1) has been an asset in middle relief all season, with an ERA of 2.79, and has given up one earned run in his past 13 appearances, covering 16 innings.
He is averaging 12.3 strikeouts per nine innings, trailing only Francisco Cordero (12.8) and Brett Myers (12.75) among pitchers with at least 35 innings.
JOHNSON GETTING CLOSER
Randy Johnson may throw one more bullpen after his 45-pitch session Friday, but his schedule has not been cemented, Melvin saying: “We’ll talk about another pen when we get home.”
Johnson is more likely to have a simulated game than a rehab start in his next step toward returning, Melvin adding, “I think we can take care of it by getting a few hitters and pitching in a more controlled environment.”
The D-Backs are 6-13 since Johnson’s last start June 28.
Tracy took batting practice but did not do much else Saturday, likely will not play today, and has talked about having an MRI when the DBacks return home. …
Left-hander Joe Savery, the Phillies’ 2007 first-round draft choice out of Rice, told the Philadelphia media that he hopes to follow the career path of Micah Owings, who spent only 1 1/2 seasons in the minor leagues before making the D-Backs this spring. Like Owings, Savery was an outstanding hitter in college who played first base when he was not pitching. Owings, who attended Tulane, played against Savery in college. …