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Notes: Tracy back in lineup

Notes: Tracy back in lineup

PHOENIX -- Chad Tracy returned once again from a strained ribcage on Sunday.

Unlike last time, when the third baseman played four games after missing six in early May, his three-plus weeks on the disabled list have cleared any hesitation in his mind that his injured ribs have healed. Last month he tried to play through the pain, but now he feels better even when doing everyday activities.

"Even just rolling around in bed it feels better," Tracy said. "There's a big difference. [There's] nothing even in the back of my mind anymore. Now I can just focus on playing."

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In three rehab games at Triple-A Tucson Tracy showed his health, hitting .467 (7-for-15) with a home run, two doubles and four RBIs. He immediately found himself in the cleanup spot in his return Sunday.

Now manager Bob Melvin has the tough task of finding playing time for Tracy, third baseman Mark Reynolds, and first baseman Conor Jackson, with Tracy having the ability to play first.

Reynolds has cooled off considerably after a hot start, but Melvin said he was never a candidate to be sent down. After hitting .426 with four home runs and 15 RBIs in his first 15 games, he has hit .188 without any homers or RBIs in his last eight contests entering Sunday.

Jackson has been hot in his last 15 games, hitting .383 with two home runs and 12 RBIs. Melvin plans to rotate the players depending on who's hot, who's pitching for the opponent and what his defense will look like.

"We're just going to have to match it up," Melvin said. "We do the best we can. Like today, Mark's not in there, Tracy's in there, Conor's over at first. In the American League we can do some things a little bit differently because of the DH (next week) and see how it plays out through those six games there, and then we get home, we're going to have to figure out what we can do again. There's no set formula."

Melvin said it's a mixed blessing to have three players capable of starting at a corner infield spot, not to mention ace pinch-hitter Tony Clark.

"You want to keep everyone involved, yet you still have to run your best lineup out there," Melvin said, "so if someone gets there feelings hurt because they aren't playing much, that can be the bad side of it."

Hammock sent down: In a corresponding move, the D-backs optioned Robbie Hammock down to Triple-A to make room for Tracy.

Hammock, who made Arizona's Opening Day roster for the first time in his career, has played a utility role all season. He has the versatility to play six different positions, including catcher.

"The guy gives me coverage everywhere," Melvin said. "In the National League being the 25th guy, you love to have a guy like that. You like to have the dynamic of having a third catcher. You can do things with your catchers a little bit earlier, so we're going to miss him and some of the things and the comfort level that I have, but as of right now that's the move we had to make."

Hammock spent nearly all of last season at Triple-A, appearing in just one Major League game after being a September callup. This season, Hammock has hit .243 in 37 at-bats without driving in a run.

"Just not getting enough at-bats for him, basically," Melvin said. "Can he play here? Absolutely. He's part of this team, so it was difficult to do."

Byrnes' streak ends: Eric Byrnes' streak of reaching base in 31 consecutive games was snapped Saturday night after an 0-for-5 outing at the plate.

Byrnes had reached base in every game since May 5, which tied a Matt Williams streak from 1999-2000 for fourth in D-backs history. Byrnes also saw his 15-game hitting streak fall in the contest.

Melvin said Byrnes, who hit leadoff for 20th time this year on Sunday, has expanded his game this season.

"This year has been by far his best year as far as on-base percentage, drawing walks, getting deeper in counts, hitting some of his tougher matchups than in the past," Melvin said, "so he's really, for a guy that has a few years in the big leagues and looks to be a little bit set in his ways, one of those dogs that you're teaching new tricks to, and he's been great about it this year."

Webb the figurine: Brandon Webb already has a Cy Young. Now he has his own figurine.

The D-backs gave away Webb figurines created by Phoenix-area artist Todd McFarlane to the first 10,000 fans age 12 and under on Sunday.

"Yeah, forget the Cy Young," Webb joked." If you've got your own little McFarlane, then you're good."

Webb said it's cool to have a figurine after having bobblehead giveaways with his likeness in the past. The D-backs will have figurine giveaways for Stephen Drew, Conor Jackson and Livan Hernandez later in the season.

"It's just another thing that's neat to have, a little bit different than what I've seen on the giveaways," Webb said. "A McFarlane figurine is pretty cool and pretty realistic and would look really good, so it's neat."

Owings won't be skipped: Despite Monday's off-day, nobody in the rotation will be skipped next time through the order. Instead everybody will get an extra day off between starts.

The D-backs have skipped fifth starter Micah Owings twice in the last month.

"The times we've skipped Micah is when we've had two off-days in seven, and it ends up being a week for some of our other guys," Melvin said. "If it's one extra day we don't have a problem with that."

Up next: Following an off-day, the D-backs travel to New York for an Interleague series on Tuesday against the Yankees. Arizona's Brandon Webb takes on Chien-Ming Wang at 4:05 p.m. MST.

Michael Schwartz is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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