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Notes: Clark setting veteran example

Notes: Clark sets veteran example

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PHOENIX -- One of the things Eric Byrnes finds most noticeable in the D-backs clubhouse this year is the lack of whining he hears regarding playing time.

With an everyday lineup that is pretty set and enough corner infielders to stock two teams, it's been a juggling act for manager Bob Melvin to get everyone enough playing time.

"You know what you don't hear this year?" Byrnes asked before Sunday's game. "People complaining about not playing enough. And it has a lot to do with that man right there."

Byrnes pointed to veteran first baseman Tony Clark, who has just 27 starts this year. The switch-hitter has been productive off the bench as usual with a .286 batting average and three homers in 28 pinch-hit at-bats.

When he's gotten starts he's produced as well, as his 11 homers in 144 at-bats overall has shown.

"He could easily be complaining about a lack of playing time," Byrnes said. "But you don't hear a word from him about it. And if a veteran who has one homer for every [14] at-bats isn't complaining, the young kids know they had better not complain. And they don't."

Speaking of roles: The D-backs' bullpen has settled into place, in large part due to the consistency of the three relievers at the back end with closer Jose Valverde handling the ninth, Brandon Lyon taking the eighth and Tony Pena pitching the seventh.

Pena and Lyon each own 22 holds entering Sunday, tied for fourth-best in the Majors. Lyon broke the franchise hold record with his 45th with the club on Aug. 1 in San Diego.

"We're not really so much concerned with the holds," Lyon said. "Our bullpen is more concerned about keeping our team in the game, or when we have the lead keeping the lead and just [getting] in the clubhouse with a win."

Lyon attributed some of the bullpen's success to the pitchers behind Arizona's big three keeping the club in the game.

"I just think it's a matter of everyone being comfortable and being confident in their stuff, and just kind of knowing the situations they're going to pitch in and just being ready for them, and it's just been kind of a good year for everybody," he said. "Everyone's just going out there and been real aggressive and throwing strikes, and that's where it starts."

Welcome to the big leagues: It would be an understatement to say rookie Justin Upton has made a big impact in his first nine games.

Of his first nine hits, seven of them have gone for extra bases, including three triples. On Tuesday, Upton -- who will turn 20 on Aug. 25 -- missed becoming the youngest player in Major League history to hit for the cycle, and Saturday he accounted for the game's only run with an RBI triple.

"Everytime he's up there, you feel like something good's going to happen," Melvin said. "He just has a presence about him that you just feel like good things are going to happen. He can hit the ball to all fields. He's got power to all fields. Once he gets up to speed out there on the bases, he's fun to watch."

Tracy sits after cortisone: Chad Tracy received a cortisone shot late Friday night for his ailing right knee and was not available for Saturday's game. Melvin said Tracy feels the best he's felt on Sunday and was available to pinch-hit.

"Just a different course of action, where for the first time [they] pinpointed exactly where the spot is," Melvin said. "It didn't have anything to do with the joint where the gel was being shot in, it was above it, so cortisone shots are good when you know exactly where the spot is, and hopefully that's the best remedy yet."

Tracy is still expected to get the third of a series of three injections of synthetic gel after Sunday's game.

A shot at history? Brandon Webb's franchise-record 33 consecutive scoreless innings prompted Melvin to answer questions comparing Webb with Orel Hershiser, who owns the Major League record with 59 straight scoreless innings.

Webb broke his own franchise record of 30 consecutive scoreless innings with a shutout of the Nationals on Saturday in his Major League-leading second shutout of the year.

"Both are pretty good pitchers that keep the ball down, can put it in play, have the ability to strike people out, are guys that teams lean on very hard, like we do [with Webb]," Melvin said. "I think last year accomplishing what he did gives him that much more confidence going forward, knowing that he's a guy that we really lean on. The run he's put together has been phenomenal, and timing-wise couldn't be better."

As for whether Melvin thinks Webb has a shot at Hershiser's record?

"I think he just kind of wants to focus on each and every game," Melvin said. "It's a phenomenal run. Whether he can get there, we'll see, but I wouldn't put anything past him."

Quentin to rehab: Carlos Quentin (hamstring strain) will probably start a rehab assignment with Triple-A Tucson on Tuesday. Melvin said it's too early to tell if Quentin will be ready to come off the disabled list when he's eligible on Friday.

Maintaining their focus: Although the D-backs have jumped out to the best record in the National League by two games entering Sunday, Melvin has helped his young club diffuse the pressure with a short-term view.

"We don't look at it as a pennant race," he said. "We're just trying to stay focused on the series that we play. The outside things start to pop up, but we're not going to be focusing on that."

Up next: The D-backs travel to Florida to start a three-game series against the Marlins on Tuesday at 4:05 p.m. MST after a Monday off-day, with Byung-Hyun Kim (6-5, 4.93) facing Dontrelle Willis (7-12, 4.98). The D-backs claimed Kim off waivers from Florida on Aug. 3.

Steve Gilbert is a reporter for MLB.com. Associate reporter Michael Schwartz contributed to this report. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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