Double-D in Dutch

When the Arizona Diamondbacks introduced AJ Hinch as their new manager replacing Bob Melvin much was made about the lack of coaching experience that Hinch had. By lack of coaching I mean that he had never coached a day in either the major or minor leagues. There was some question as to how Hinch would handle this. General Manager Josh Byrnes sidestepped the question with curt answers that described terms such as “organizational advocacy” and “quiet leadership”. He then simply stated that AJ would just learn each day and that everything would be fine. Given that the team has been in a state of turmoil, Byrnes confidence seemed out of place.

I personally wondered how the players would react to the appointment of Hinch especially since there were other more traditional candidates within the organization that made more sense. Bench coach Kirk Gibson and third-base coach Chip Hale both would seem to be candidates that the team would look to but instead Byrnes and the Diamondbacks brain trust put their faith in Hinch.

Manager Bob Melvin was well liked in baseball circles by both his peers as well as his players (current and former). In fact I had a hard time finding any negative quotes attributed to any player who had played for Bo-Mel. Instead there was a steady stream of praise set forth about their former skipper.

The clubhouse can be an interesting place. Rarely do the players allow the media or the fans in the inner sanctum to fully understand what is going on there. The best way I can describe it is a cross between a family and a fraternity. You live in close quarters with 24 other guys and a coaching staff and see them day in and day out. There are some people you become good friends with and look forward to seeing every day and there are others that you merely tolerate for 6 months. The point is though you always have each other’s back. When there is a change in managers, that disrupts the family dynamic and you are bound to have a few ripples. The question becomes, are these small ripples in a pond or do they become huge waves that disrupt the body of water.

Once these waves begin to occur it is up to the manager and his coaching staff to curtail the cause of the ripples and keep them under control rather than letting them gain steam and create bigger problems. If the manager has not gained the proper respect, these ripples become more frequent and each one results in a little larger wave.

The first trial of respect in the AJ Hinch era occurred tonight in Atlanta. With the Diamondbacks behind and the offense again struggling it appeared that starting pitcher Doug Davis would remain in the game. At the last moment Hinch removed Davis for a pinch hitter. A clearly upset Doug Davis went off in the dugout and the television cameras showed Doug and manager AJ Hinch going into the tunnel to further their discussion. After the game Davis was not available for comment leaving the stadium before reporters were allowed into the clubhouse. This isn’t the first time Doug Davis has murmured under his breath at the frustration he is feeling this year due to the lack of offensive production.

As if this episode was not bad enough, the Diamondbacks television announcers happened to be Darin Sutton and Matt Williams. Williams took exception to Davis yelling at his coach in the dugout and called him out on-air. He went on to explain that Davis had no one to blame but himself for being removed from the game since Doug had committed an error earlier that allowed the Braves to take the lead. That might not be such a big deal but not only is Matt Williams a part-time announcer for the Diamondbacks he is also a member of the front office reporting to CEO Derrick Hall. Doug Davis took some offense to being called out and had a few comments about it. So AJ now has something new to deal with. Not only is his club still struggling at the plate but he now has a potentially disgruntled player who is questioning the direction of the team from the front office down. This is going to be an interesting storyline to follow as the season continues to unfold. Don’t be surprised if Doug Davis suddenly finds himself in rumored trade talks when July arrives. This season just keeps getting stranger and stranger.

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