Notes: Owings discovers new pitch
Pitcher's use of new changeup helps him, besides his bat
ATLANTA -- Micah Owings surprised pitching coach Bryan Price during his start on Saturday night, and it had nothing to do with the right-hander's two home runs and six RBIs.
Instead it was with a pitch that he uncorked early in the game.
"I thought, 'Man, I think he just threw an eephus pitch,'" Price said.
In actuality, Owings threw a changeup using a different grip that gave it similar movement, but was slower.
"He developed it last night, in the middle of the game," Price said. "He did, I'm not lying. I'm sure he's thrown it before in his lifetime, but it's not a pitch we've been working on in the bullpen. He said he just pushed it back further in his hand and it took an extra six to eight mph off his changeup."
It could wind up being a big pitch for Owings, because there had been some concern that previously there wasn't a big enough speed gap between his fastball, slider and change.
"He had command and he had arm speed and the delivery was the same," Price said. "It's a useable pitch, if he can show that he can continue to command it."
You'll rest and like it: D-backs manager Bob Melvin knew he would catch plenty of good-natured teasing from Eric Byrnes when he left him out of Sunday's lineup.
Byrnes likes off-days about as much as most people like having a root canal done, but Melvin felt that the timing was right.
"He knows he needs a day off," Melvin said. "This is just a good time for it. Shoot, a week or 10 days ago, I felt like I needed to give him one at some point, so when we had this trip coming, if I could get to Sunday, this was the day I always had in mind to give him off."
So Byrnes, how do you feel about having the day off?
"You've got to be under 21 to crack this lineup," Byrnes said with a smile.
Speaking of off-days: Reliever Tony Pena's last appearance was Wednesday in Florida, which means the right-hander has gotten three days off.
"You get three days off at this time of the season, it's almost like a position player getting a full day off," Melvin said. "So it's nice that the starting rotation has been nice to pick it up as of late, so we haven't taxed these guys too much."
Arizona has leaned heavily on Pena and Brandon Lyon to get the ball to closer Jose Valverde, but it would be hard to argue that they've been overworked. Pena had appeared in 56 games and Lyon in 55 coming into Sunday, which doesn't even put them in the top 20 among National League relievers.
Pena does, however, rank fifth in innings pitched out of the bullpen.
"I think [Price] and I, over the years, have been pretty good about not having anyone in the top 10 in appearances, so we keep an eye on that," Melvin said. "Pena's probably a guy -- because of the innings pitched on top of the appearances -- who is the guy that we worry about the most, but we've been able to give him a blow here, so I think all that going forward is going to be good for him."
Get well soon: D-backs assistant athletic trainer Dave Edwards, who has been with the club since its expansion season, was taken to a local hospital Saturday after coming down with an infection in his knee.
Melvin said the severity of the problem was not known, but Edwards will not be able to travel back to Phoenix with the team following Sunday's game.
"It's been bothering him the last few days, especially since we've gotten here; he's been limping around considerably," Melvin said. "They've got an IV in him with some antibiotics, and it's significant enough to where they want to keep him again tonight."
Up next: Arizona returns home on Monday to begin a three-game series with Milwaukee at 6:40 p.m. MST. Former Brewer Doug Davis (10-10, 3.92 ERA) will take on Yovani Gallardo (4-3, 4.84 ERA) in the opener.
Steve Gilbert is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.