TUCSON - Bob Melvin is a constant lineup experimenter, so much so that he will pick up a notepad while at home during the offseason and start scribbling possible batting orders for the Diamondbacks.
“Until you get here for the spring and get on the field and see where guys are most comfortable, you’re going to be moving people around,” said Melvin, who is in his third season as Arizona manager.
In the era of utility players, situation substituting and detailed scouting reports of opposing pitchers, a set lineup each day — while comforting to a manager — is becoming less of a necessity.
The D-Backs have the luxury of a number of versatile players, enabling Melvin to tinker often. In 2006, Melvin used 112 different lineups, and this spring, he has identified seven players as candidates to lead off.
“We have a bunch of guys who can fit in the same mold, able to hit second through eighth,” third baseman Chad Tracy said.
“As far as the lineup, Melvin will probably do a lot of matching up, and I think everyone on the team is an unselfish player who will go along with it.”
The younger D-Backs hitters are used to being flexible, while the veterans are not rigid in where they should be in the lineup.
“Luckily, we’ve had no selfishness here,” Melvin said.
“The thing we try to do is be proactive, so every player knows from the start that they should have no expectation about where they are hitting.”
LIVAN, GOOD MAN
Livan Hernandez made his spring debut and allowed three hits and an earned run in three innings against the Chicago White Sox on Friday.
The right-hander threw 52 pitches, including a number of sinkers — a pitch he is trying to utilize more to complement his four-seam fastball.
“I tried to work in a lot of sinkers, and I want to get that pitch to where it is working 100 percent,” Hernandez said.
“With as many four-seamers as I use, that will be important.”
FITS THE BILL
Infielder Alberto Callaspo, a projected utility player off the bench, is a candidate to bat leadoff when he is in the lineup.
The 23-year-old played the part well Friday, going 2 for 3.
After the second hit, Melvin lifted Callaspo, who has been suffering from a sore groin, for a pinch-runner.
“We’ve gotten a lot of trade calls on Callaspo,” Melvin said.
“He’s a switch hitter who can play a lot of positions — short, third and second.
“He puts the ball in play, and we can hit and run with him. You talk about younger guys off the bench, he is a guy who is going to have to get his at-bats.”
Closer Jose Valverde, previously scheduled to pitch today, will instead throw a bullpen session, then return to the Valley to be with his wife, Luisa, who gave birth to the couple’s first child on Wednesday night.
Valverde will return to the D-Backs full-time on Sunday. His first game appearance is to be determined.
UNIT ON HOLD
Melvin said that pitcher Randy Johnson’s availability for Cactus League games is up in the air. Johnson (back), who will throw a bullpen session on Sunday, will likely start the season on the disabled list.
“Once he starts throwing against hitters, we’ll have a timetable,” Melvin said. “Now, it’s bullpen to bullpen.”
What: Arizona plays the White Sox at 1:05 p.m. today at Tucson Electric Park.
TV/Radio: None/KTAR (620 AM)
Pitchers: D-Backs — Doug Davis, D.J. Carrasco, Brandon Medders, Jeff Bajenaru, Bill Murphy; White Sox — Gavin Floyd, Matt Thornton, Mike MacDougal, Eduardo Sierra, Ryan Bukvich, Boone Logan
AT A GLANCE
D-Backs 10, White Sox 3
Notable pitching: Livan Hernandez allowed three hits and an earned run with two walks and no strikeouts in three innings of work. Brandon Lyon, Jorge Julio and Mike Schultz tossed a scoreless frame apiece.
Notable hitting: Shortstop Brian Barden went 2 for 3 with a home run and two RBIs, and Alberto Callaspo, Stephen Drew and Mark Reynolds added two hits each.