Church expresses desire to return in 2011

Church expresses desire to return in 2011

PHOENIX -- When new D-backs general manager Kevin Towers was asked about his offseason priorities, he used three words: "Bullpen and bench."

Ryan Church wants to be a member of the latter in 2011. The arbitration-eligible outfielder -- he was acquired from the Pirates on July 31 -- met Towers before Wednesday's win over the Rockies.

"We finally have everything concrete and have the guy who will be running the show," Church said. "Now it's just all up to what they're going to do with staff, with players.

"Nothing is guaranteed. I'm playing for next year, whether it be here or somewhere else. I'd love to come back. I love the direction this team is going. It's a great clubhouse, a great front office. It's an exciting time because you know his track record, what he's done."

Reading into the GM's own comments -- he did say more than three words -- changes could be in store, especially for two sectors of the ballclub he believes are critical to success.

"Your good teams have experienced bench players that know their role," Towers said. "With double-switches in the National League, it's vital and it's important to have a manager that has weapons on the bench and in the 'pen where he can choose and manage the game, knowing the type of matchups he might get late in the ballgame."

If Church sticks around, his defense will be one reason why. In his seven Major League seasons, he has made 119-plus starts at each outfield position. He also carries a .993 career fielding percentage, and has not recorded an error in his past 90 games, a team high. Wednesday's victory ended with Church making a sliding grab in left field.

An inconsistent bat, however, has kept Church from starting every day. He batted .182 in 69 games in Pittsburgh but, despite sporadic playing time, has picked up the pace in Arizona. Over his past seven games, he's batting .375 (6-for-16) with two home runs, two doubles and six RBIs.

Church did not start Thursday's series finale against Colorado, but he was available -- off of the bench.