Notes: D-backs getting ready for Gonzo

Notes: D-backs getting ready for Gonzo

PHOENIX -- There won't be a No. 20 painted in the outfield grass when Luis Gonzalez trots out to his position at Chase Field this time.

Monday, Gonzalez will make his first appearance at Chase Field since the final game of last season when he was honored by the D-backs for his eight-year stint with the organization. It was a bittersweet time for Gonzalez, who was clearly hurt when the organization decided not to pick up his option for 2007 or make any attempt to re-sign him.

"I spent a lot of years there, fun years, but to be honest, I'm very happy here," said Gonzalez, "I was disappointed I wasn't in their plans to stay there, but that's part of the game. I had a great sendoff."

Much has changed since then. The D-backs, have changed their color scheme and Gonzalez has switched to No. 26 because No. 20 was retired in honor of Hall of Fame pitcher Don Sutton. One thing that isn't different is that the Valley is still home for Gonzalez, his wife Christine and their triplets.

"It's going to be nice to be back there," he said. "It's especially nice because that's where I live now. I have great friends there. I'll get to meet my kids at school and have lunch with them. It'll be old-home week, except for the Houston Astros colors on the other side,"

"It'll be funny seeing him out there," said D-backs manager Bob Melvin, who enjoyed a close relationship with Gonzalez. "I've watched TV; I've seen him out there in Dodger blue, so it's not going to be like it'll be a complete surprise. Yet, you're used to seeing him out there in purple pinstripes and we're not in purple pinstripes anymore. Once you get the first game off the ledger with him out there, then it's just back to business."

Speaking of former D-backs: With the rainouts they suffered in Pittsburgh over the weekend, the Giants have juggled their pitching rotation and will now start Russ Ortiz against the D-backs in Friday's series opener in San Francisco.

The right-hander was signed by Arizona to four-year $33 million contract prior to the 2005 season and was a bust in the desert before being released in June with the club still on the hook for nearly $22 million. It was the largest contract ever eaten by a Major League team.

Ortiz shed some weight in the offseason, was signed by the Giants and won the No. 5 spot in the rotation with a solid spring.

One more? The team is still deciding whether Randy Johnson will make one more Minor League rehab start before making his season debut with the D-backs.

Johnson threw six innings for Triple-A Tucson on Friday night.

"I'll probably have something for you [Monday]," Melvin said when asked about Johnson's next appearance.

Two in a row: Tony Clark started at first base for the second straight game in place of Conor Jackson, who is 3-for-15 on the homestand.

"It's not something I'm going to do very often with him, but I wanted to get another left-handed bat in there," Melvin said. "It's no fun for Conor, but Conor's our guy. It's one of the few times you'll see him get two days off [in a row]."

Clark is 3-for-6 in his career against Sunday's Colorado starter Byung-Hyun Kim.

One only: Melvin would rather only use closer Jose Valverde to start the ninth inning rather than bring him in with men on base in the eighth.

"For me, he's more of a clean-inning type of guy," Melvin said. "Now at home do we potentially bring him in for that two-inning type of deal? Potentially, but not very often will you see me bring him in for more than one."

Ouch: Utility man Robby Hammock was sporting a bruise on his right wrist from where he was hit by Aaron Cook on Saturday night.

"He's a little sore," Melvin said. "He's available, but it's one of those days where if he was in the lineup I'd probably have to take him out of there, but he's a useful guy later in the game."

Up next: The D-backs open up a brief two-game series with the Dodgers on Monday night with Edgar Gonzalez facing Brad Penny.

It's a big start for Gonzalez. With Johnson due back at some point in the next couple of weeks, a decision will likely have to be made between Gonzalez and Micah Owings being removed from the rotation in favor of Johnson.

"There's pressure in this game every time you go out there, so it's not going to be a focal point for them," Melvin said of the pair. "They've got to go out there and do their jobs. It's not like Spring Training where there's actual competition between guys going forward to try to win jobs and make a roster. You always have to go out there and focus on the results on that given day and that's what we expect them to continue to do."

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