Notes: Clark gets extension

Notes: Clark gets contract extension

PHOENIX -- He's been incredible as a pinch-hitter and steady as a starter. He's been a leader in the clubhouse and a role model in the community. And because of all that, Tony Clark will be a Diamondback for another two seasons.

The club announced on Friday that they signed the first baseman to a two-year contract extension. Although Arizona did not disclose the financial terms of the deal, general partner Jeff Moorad announced that Clark, a Glendale resident, received a no-trade clause for the first year and a half of the extension.

"There's no more important a leader than Tony is in a variety of ways," Moorad said. "He's a veteran who sets the tone for this team in many respects. He's a terrific teammate, as we've been told by other players. And, as important as anything, he's pretty productive. We've taken notice and we're thrilled to have him on board for the next couple of years."

Clark is hitting .329 -- by far the best of his career -- with 18 home runs and 55 RBIs despite recording only 210 at-bats this year. He is also 15-for-35 with three homers and 15 RBIs as a pinch-hitter.

The deal also means Clark will be in the same clubhouse for back-to-back seasons for the first time since 2000-2001.

"You're talking about being in one place for more than one year and that one place happens to be where you hang your hat at the end of the day," said Clark, who has played for five teams in the last five years. "This being home, being here year-round, being involved the way we're involved during the offseason, it gives us a chance to really settle in and do some things that we take great pride in."

Clark's playing time has increased recently after Chad Tracy moved to the outfield. Clark, a 10-year veteran, served as a mentor to Tracy and will now help the development of rookie Conor Jackson.

"I don't know where we'd be without him," said Arizona manager Bob Melvin, who was with Clark in Detroit in 2000. "In a starting role, coming off the bench, it doesn't matter to him. His preparation is second to none, he helps guys that aren't playing in their preparation, he's there for us when he starts. He was great for Trace earlier, he's going to be great for Conor right now and plus he's the kind of guy you want in your organization and in your community as well."

Spoiler watch: Most people would look at Arizona's weekend series with the Rockies and think it is an ideal opportunity for the Diamondbacks to gain a little momentum before their 12-game road trip. But Melvin knows better than to discount the Rockies, a team Arizona is 7-2 against this year.

Although the Rockies are buried in last, they've actually posted the best record among NL West clubs since June 1 (24-33). They might not have a shot at contending for the division, but they can certainly wreak havoc for the teams that do.

"There's one thing about Clint Hurdle, he gets his guys to play hard every day and it's a team that you fear because looking at the standings, they might not be in the race, but they're going to have an effect in the race because they play everyone within our division a couple more times, including us," Melvin said. "You have to go out there and not take these guys lightly because they can jump up and spoil you."

The series is important to the D-Backs because they've struggled at Bank One Ballpark, going 12-22 in their last 34 home games. Their impending road trip also includes stops in Florida, Atlanta and St. Louis.

"We need to play better at home," Melvin said. "This is a team, at least from a manger's perspective, that scares you because you know coming in they play with reckless abandon and have nothing to lose. Therefore, they're dangerous."

No closer controversy -- yet: Jose Valverde threw 1 2/3 scoreless innings on Thursday for his third save of the year. But Melvin insisted Valverde, Arizona's most reliable reliever for the last month and a half, isn't in the mix to become the team's closer.

Valverde, who has given up just one run in his last 15 appearances, came back out for the ninth after Clark's homer in the bottom of the eighth pushed the lead to four -- making it a non-save situation for a new pitcher.

"He definitely is our hottest pitcher right now, and has been most effective in the eighth inning. But we felt like with giving him only two outs in the eighth -- and he was all right pitch-count-wise to go back out there in the ninth -- he was the guy going out there yesterday," Melvin said. "He's pitching with a lot of confidence; he's feeling good."

On deck: The D-Backs and Rockies continue their series from Bank One Ballpark on Saturday at 6:40 p.m. MST. In a battle of rookie southpaws, Michael Gosling (0-2, 3.68 ERA) faces Jeff Francis (10-7, 5.16 ERA) of Colorado.

Daniel Blank is a contributor to This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.