Hammock learns he'll make club
Catcher nabs spot, but last bench job yet to be finalized
TUCSON, Ariz. -- Catcher Robby Hammock has sweated his way through the final days of Spring Training before, and he is well aware of how the roster numbers can work against you or for you.
So, in looking at the Diamondbacks' Spring Training roster, it didn't escape him that Arizona only has three catchers listed, and one them, Miguel Montero, is going to have to start the year on the disabled list. Unless the D-backs are planning on having Chris Snyder catch every inning of every game, Hammock has this team made.
Arizona manager Bob Melvin, though, said it looked to him that Hammock was pressing at the plate, so he confirmed the obvious Tuesday in hopes of relaxing him a bit.
"You know you're not going anywhere," Melvin told Hammock. "So relax."
Hammock entered Tuesday's game with a .154 spring batting average.
"They know I can hit. They know I will be a good offensive player -- just relax and do it," Hammock said. "I tried some stuff early on in camp -- some different things with my approach -- and then I just lost my natural hitting slot, so I've been killing myself trying to find that."
The final spot on the roster appears to be all but set, with Trot Nixon and Alex Romero still listed as candidates.
But if you listen to Melvin describe what he's looking for out of that final spot, it sure sounds like it's going to be Nixon.
"Who is able to handle fewer at-bats?" Melvin said. "Who's more of a pinch-hit possibility for us? A lot of times it's tougher for a young kid to play off the bench. A perfect roster for me is a mix of youth and experience out in the field and a more veteran-laden bench."
Nixon, 33, was signed by the D-backs just prior to the first full-squad workout. A longtime outfielder, Nixon has added first base to his repertoire. Romero, meanwhile, is just 24 years of age, and after a solid season at Triple-A in 2007, the club may want him to play there everyday rather than sit on the bench.
Of course, Romero is on the 40-man roster, whereas Nixon would need to be added. A spot would open if the D-backs choose between out-of-options relievers Dustin Nippert and Brandon Medders in the bullpen. But with Randy Johnson set to start the season on the disabled list, the club may end up keeping both Nippert and Medders, meaning another player -- maybe Emiliano Fruto? -- would need to be removed to make room for Nixon.
Follow all that? If not, don't feel bad. As Hammock will tell you, sometimes the roster math gets awfully complicated this time of year.
Steve Gilbert is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.