D-backs field likely Opening Day squad

D-backs field likely Opening Day squad

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- It's a good bet the nine men in the D-backs starting lineup on Friday will be the same come March 31, when Arizona opens the 2008 season in Cincinnati.

Whether they'll be hitting in the same order, well, that's another story.

"It's our guys," D-backs manager Bob Melvin said. "Once again, I don't know from day to day if that's going to be the exact lineup or if that's going to be the Opening Day lineup, but it is the group."

The "group" lined up like this: Chris Young (center field), Orlando Hudson (second base), Conor Jackson (first base), Eric Byrnes (left field), Chris Snyder (catcher), Mark Reynolds (third base), Stephen Drew (shortstop), Justin Upton (right field) and Brandon Webb (pitcher).

Without a true No. 4 hitter, Melvin figures to use Byrnes there initially, but he also likes moving Byrnes around in the order, believing the outfielder thrives on the challenge. But Byrnes isn't the only one who could find himself on the move.

What Snyder did in the second half of 2007 and so far this spring has convinced Melvin that he no longer is a bottom-of-the-order hitter.

"For us, it's always kind of a work in progress and [finding the right] matchups on a particular day," Melvin said. "Stephen could hit a little higher against the right-handers. Certainly what Snyder's done has thrown another wrench into potentially what would have been closer to a set type of lineup. I think Conor can hit any where from two to six. We have time left here to settle on an absolute opening day lineup."

One place Jackson likely will not hit is leadoff, despite his .368 on-base percentage last year.

"More two," Melvin said. "He's a guy who does hit the ball the other way, does get on base quite a bit. But we do have some guys that, typically, we might want to get ahead of him, speed-wise."

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