Diamondbacks-Athletics Preview

Bob Melvin spent parts of eight seasons in three different roles

with the Arizona Diamondbacks. Now, he will try to beat his former

club as manager of the Oakland Athletics.

With Rich Harden set to begin his second stint in Oakland,

Melvin’s A’s open a three-game set against the visiting

Diamondbacks on Friday night.

After serving as Arizona’s bench coach from 2001-02, Melvin

managed the Diamondbacks from 2005 until he was fired early in the

2009 season. Melvin, who guided the club to the NLCS in 2007, was

hired back by Arizona as a special advisor in May before he left to

replace the fired Bob Geren in Oakland on June 9.

The A’s (36-46), who have dropped six of eight, are 9-10 under

Melvin.

“That’s who I came up playing for, and the relationship is

there. But at the same time, he wants to win, and so do we,”

Diamondbacks outfielder Justin Upton told the team’s official

website. “We are going to go in there and battle, and win every

game that we can.”

Meeting for the first time since Arizona took two of three at

Oakland in 2009, both clubs are looking to bounce back after losing

their most recent series.

The A’s hope Harden can help them avoid a third consecutive loss

when he takes the mound for the first time since Sept. 29 while

with Texas. A strained right lat muscle was the latest setback for

the oft-injured Harden, who went 5-5 with a 5.34 ERA in 18 starts

for the Rangers in 2010.

Harden went 36-19 with a 3.48 ERA in 89 starts while spending

his first five-plus seasons in Oakland.

“He has a track record of success when he’s healthy. Our job, my

job, is to keep him healthy,” Melvin told the Athletics’ official

website. “So, I won’t overextend him on Friday. It’ll be nice to

have him out there again. For us, it’s like making a trade, getting

some of these guys back.”

Harden, who struck out 12 and allowed three runs over 7 2-3

innings in two starts for Triple-A Sacramento, gave up a run and

fanned 10 in seven innings of a 2-0 loss in his only appearance

against the Diamondbacks on July 21, 2008.

The A’s hope to provide more support for the right-hander than

they have while averaging 1.6 runs over the last eight games.

David DeJesus had two hits in Thursday’s 5-4 loss to Florida,

but he’s 5 for 46 (.109) in his last 18 games and batting a

career-low .226. However, he’s hit .359 with two homers and 15 RBIs

in 10 games against the Diamondbacks (44-38), who hope rookie Josh

Collmenter can avoid a fourth consecutive losing start in the

opener.

Collmenter (4-4, 2.71) went 3-1 with a 1.05 ERA in his first six

career starts but has posted a 7.00 ERA over the last three. The

right-hander gave up six runs in six innings of a 6-0 loss at

Detroit on Saturday.

Upton, who homered in a 6-2 loss to Cleveland on Wednesday, has

hit .414 with four home runs and 19 RBIs in his last 29 games. He’s

batted .421 (8 for 19) in five career contests versus Oakland.

Arizona had a six-game winning streak at Oakland snapped with a

6-2 loss May 24, 2009.