Notes: Schu emphasizes inside pitch

Notes: Schu emphasizes inside pitch

SAN DIEGO -- It has been quite a whirlwind month for new D-backs hitting coach Rick Schu.

Serving as the organization's hitting coordinator, Schu was set to visit the club's Rookie League team and then head to the Domincan Republic before finding out he was headed to the big leagues to replace Kevin Seitzer during the All-Star break.

The D-backs won the first two games out of the break, but then went into a slump, losing five of six games. Yet even then, Schu saw positive signs.

"I saw some guys making some good adjustments and feeling good about themselves and were headed in the right direction in terms of their approach," Schu said.

That turned out to be the case, as Arizona ran off eight straight wins, in large part because of the performance of the offense, which averaged 5.5 runs a game.

"Chris Young has been great, and Chris Snyder has it going on and Stephen Drew is real close to breaking out huge," Schu said before Drew hit a two-run homer on Tuesday night against the Padres.

Snyder's success is due to a couple of mechanical adjustments, including standing closer to the plate, relaxing his hands and not moving them up and down as much, along with getting his front foot planted sooner.

"Got his base a little wider with that open stance of his," Schu said. "I think sometimes his front foot was getting down a little late and then he was rushing to the ball. So, we're trying to get his foot down early and have him think about using his hands first."

Whereas Seitzer emphasized letting the ball travel, using the middle-to-opposite field and not worrying so much about the inside pitch, Schu has a little different view of things.

"I see a lot of guys that have this late rush," he said. "They want to let the ball get deep, but they never get started, and so for a lot of guys we're just trying to get them loaded up a little earlier and have more leverage and get better pitch recognition.

"I like guys to hit the ball the other way, middle and outer half, but you get that ball middle in, I'd like to see guys get the head out and drive the ball out of the ballpark now and then, too."

Got enough: Last year when the non-waiver trade deadline passed without the D-backs making a deal, there was some grumbling in the clubhouse, but this year the players seemed to take things in stride.

"I think that the confidence is still there, regardless, simply because our progression as a team over the course of the year has led us to believe that we're going to be better at the end of the year than we are now, because we're better now than we were at the beginning," D-backs first baseman Tony Clark said. "If we continue to make the strides offensively and continue to pitch it and catch it the way we have been, then we're going to be exactly where we should be come the end of the season."

Important stretch ... again: D-backs manager Bob Melvin can only chuckle when he gets asked about a series, road trip or homestand being important. In his mind, every series, every game from here on out is key.

This six-game trip to San Diego and Los Angeles, though, will be a measuring stick of sorts for the D-backs' offense, because it will face two top pitching staffs in ballparks that are not conducive to offense.

"I think this is going to be a true test for us these next two series with facing good pitching," Schu said. "We've always hit very well at home and we haven't hit real well in San Diego and L.A., and we've got some good arms going against us, so hopefully, these kids can keep it going."

Tracy update: Chad Tracy will not start Tuesday or Wednesday, but is available to pinch-hit after having a synthetic gel injected into his right knee to try and alleviate his tendinitis.

Tracy likely will get a second injection during the team's Monday off-day.

Up next: The D-backs continue their three-game set with the Padres on Wednesday night with Micah Owings squaring off against David Wells.

Melvin downplayed whether the start was a make-or-break one for Owings, who has struggled of late.

"These last two haven't been his best, but we still have confidence in him, and that's about as far as I'm prepared to go with it," Melvin said.

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