Notes: Hernandez pushed back a game

Notes: Hernandez pushed back till Tuesday

ST. LOUIS -- The rain in Pittsburgh on Thursday cost the Diamondbacks a chance to play, but it gave manager Bob Melvin the opportunity to push back Orlando "El Duque" Hernandez's start from Sunday to Tuesday.

That means Claudio Vargas will remain the Saturday starter with Miguel Batista going on Sunday and Brandon Webb on Monday.

Hernandez's last two starts have been a real struggle, with the right-hander allowing eight runs in 5 2/3 innings against the Reds and six runs in just 3 2/3 innings against the Dodgers.

"That's the way we want to work it right now, just keep some of these other guys on [their regular] turn," Melvin said. "I know I didn't say that yesterday, but we looked at it a little harder today and just felt like it was the best thing to do for everybody involved."

Melvin acknowledged that Hernandez was not thrilled with the decision. His start on Tuesday will come against the Padres, who he handled three starts ago in San Diego, allowing just one run in six innings.

"I did like the San Diego matchup last time," Melvin said. "All things considered we just felt like it weighed a little bit heavier to scoot him back a couple of days."

Mr. Popularity: The Hernandez decision was not the only one Melvin made on Friday that ruffled some feathers.

Shortstop Craig Counsell was scheduled to get Thursday's game off before it was postponed by rain and Melvin decided to again leave him out of the lineup Friday.

"Probably not real happy about that either," Melvin said of Counsell. "But I'm going to keep him healthy."

Counsell is playing with a slight tear in his labrum that so far has not effected him, but he has been slowed at times this year by a sore hamstring and a stiff back. With lefty Mark Mulder starting on Friday for the Cardinals, Melvin figured it was a good time to give Counsell a break. Damion Easley got the starting nod at short.

"There's nothing wrong with him today," Melvin said. "I wanted to get Damion in there. I think another day will help [Counsell] that much more. He may disagree. He'll tell you he's healthy, but I just feel like it's a good day for Damion to play."

New digs: The new Busch Stadium got mainly positive reviews from the Diamondbacks, though it's telling what certain players notice about a ballpark.

Take for instance reliever Jason Grimsley. The right-hander relies heavily on a sinker and gets lots of ground balls, so he naturally looked to one thing.

"I like it," Grimsley said of the park. "The grass is nice and thick."

And how about the depth of the outfield walls?

"I don't care about that," he said. "If the balls in the air when I'm pitching I'm in trouble anyway."

Surfing: Eric Byrnes, who was hitting .400 over his last nine games heading into Friday, was in the lineup once again, as Melvin revealed that outfielder Jeff DaVanon has been bothered by a stiff back.

"I think he's a guy that has a history of when he gets hot, he gets hot," Melvin said of Byrnes. "You try to ride that wave."

Small world: Third-base coach Carlos Tosca's father, Carlos Enrique Tosca, was outfielder Luis Gonzalez's pediatrician while Gonzalez was growing up in the Tampa area.

"All the kids liked going to see him because he gave out candy," Gonzalez said.

This, that and the other: Terry Mulholland (elbow) will throw a simulated game Saturday. ... Counsell will play Saturday and Sunday as will catcher Johnny Estrada. ... The D-Backs entered Friday's game with the NL's top batting average (.276). They were fourth in ERA (4.04).

Up next: The Diamondbacks take on the Cardinals in the second game of this three-game set on Saturday at 4:15 p.m. MT.

Arizona will send Claudio Vargas to the mound against Jason Marquis. Vargas will try to win his fourth consecutive start for the first time in his career. In his last outing against the Reds, he allowed one run over six innings.

Steve Gilbert is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.