PHOENIX – The Arizona Diamondbacks hoped a managerial switch would change their fortunes.
It has – for the worse.
Picked by many to contend this season, the Diamondbacks are 1-5 since they replaced Bob Melvin with A.J. Hinch, a front office executive with no managerial experience.
The Washington Nationals, the only major league team that has fewer wins than the Diamondbacks, took two out of three at Chase Field.
Then the Cincinnati Reds came to town and swept a three-game series by a combined score of 26-9.
As the Diamondbacks begin a 10-game road trip Friday, they’re 13-22 and in last place in the NL West, 10 1/2 games behind the Los Angeles Dodgers.
“It’s been tough, not only because we’re changing staffs but because we’re not winning games,” third baseman Mark Reynolds said.
Hinch has tried to jump-start the team by shuffling the lineup. He moved error-prone third baseman Reynolds to first base for a game, the second time he has played that position in his career.
He batted catcher Miguel Montero second for the first time in his career, then put shortstop Stephen Drew in the cleanup spot for the first time.
“I’m not grabbing it out of a hat,” Hinch said. “I’m doing it with a purpose.”
The new lineups have worked about as well as the old ones. With the exception of streaking right fielder Justin Upton, the Diamondbacks have been unable to shake themselves out of a season-long slump at the plate, where they’re hitting a major league-worst .232.
Outfielder Eric Byrnes is hitting .200 in the second year of a three-year, $30 million contract.
Outfielder Chris Young, who was given a $28 million, five-year contract extension in April 2008 after only one full major-league season, is batting .185 and has 11 more strikeouts than hits.
Catcher Chris Snyder is batting .215. Infielder Chad Tracy has been benched with a .200 average.
The malaise at the plate has carried into the field, where the club has looked disorganized and lethargic at times.
In a 13-5 victory Monday night, Cincinnati scored twice on wild pitches by reliever Bobby Korecky. Two nights later, Montero threw a ball into center field while trying to nail a base stealer at second, allowing a runner from third to trot home.
“There’s no magic potion here,” Hinch said. “There’s obviously some fundamental things that we can do better.”
Every miscue has prompted a new round of boos from the usually placid Chase Field crowds.
“If anything, we share that frustration with the fans,” Hinch said. “Ultimately I think everybody kind of understands that this is a rut that we’ve got to get ourselves out of, and we’re going to have to do it ourselves.”
Hinch, who turns 35 on Friday, has faced questions about his credentials. But as a former vice president for player development, Hinch is intimately familiar with the background of homegrown players such as Reynolds, Upton and Stephen Drew.
“My frustration is obviously not six days old,” Hinch said. “I feel exactly what these guys have gone through and I’m willing to dig down and help them get out of it the best we can as a group.”