D-backs notebook: Win over Cubs a throwback

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — The Diamondbacks’ 3-2 victory over the Cubs on Monday was a throwback.

Ian Kennedy was effective and efficient, Justin Upton had two doubles and drove in a run, Paul Goldschmidt homered and J.J. Putz closed it out with a save.

As sharp as he has been all spring, Kennedy gave up one run and five hits while becoming the first D-backs starter to go seven innings this spring. He struck out four while using an economical 82 pitches. He needed only 68 pitches in the first six innings before giving up a run in the seventh.

“I’ll take that during the season,” Kennedy said.

“It’s nice to go seven today. As long as I get my innings up, I’m pretty happy. It was a good all-around game for us.”

Kennedy, 21-4 last season, has given up only one run in his last 11 innings in two major league games and two runs in 16 innings counting a start in a minor league game March 21 to keep San Francisco from seeing him again.

“Overall, I felt pretty happy about how my stuff is coming along. My off-speed pitches are coming,” Kennedy said.

“Today I wasn’t happy with some of the changeups that I threw and ended up walking some guys because of it. I was kind of pulling them. They weren’t as good as I wanted them to be, but overall, my curveball was pretty good. I was happy with my two-seamer today, too.”

Kennedy walked two Monday but has only three walks in 15 1/3 spring innings.

One of manager Kirk Gibson’s points of emphasis the last few days has been recognizing signs, sometimes hard for a pitcher because they bat every fifth day, but Kennedy got them all.

He hit a hard grounder on a hit-and-run play in the fourth inning, enabling Geoff Blum to advance from first to second when second baseman Blake DeWitt could not field it cleanly. Kennedy also got down a sacrifice bunt in the sixth inning and even recognized when the bunt sign was removed.
 
“That is something we are really conscious about this year. He had a pretty complete day,” Gibson said.

“We’ve been working hard on our offensive part. More live stuff, which I feel like we didn’t do last year. We’re going to implement that more this year, too,” Kennedy said.

SAITO PITCHES ON BACK-TO-BACK DAYS

Takashi Saito, called by Gibson a candidate to close on the days when J.J. Putz needs a break this season, pitched in back-to-back games for the first time this season Sunday and Monday.

Saito allowed a run after hitting the leadoff batter in the eighth inning Monday, and he gave up a two-run homer against San Diego on Sunday. He has given up 10 hits and six earned runs in seven innings, but the D-backs are not concerned with his spring results. They see a veteran method to his madness.

“He’s pretty coy about using stuff in spring training, I think. I think he’s just trying to get a feel for his pitches. He does a lot in the bullpen. He doesn’t like to show too much,” said Gibson, who added that Saito shook off the sign every time a slider was called.

Putz and David Hernandez also have pitched back-to-back days this spring.

ANOTHER, DAY ANOTHER LINEUP

For the second day in a row, Gibson ran out a lineup that could be used on Opening Day: SS Willie Bloomquist, 2B Aaron Hill, RF Upton, C Miguel Montero, CF Chris Young, LF Jason Kubel, 1B Goldschmidt, 3B Geoff Blum.

The only changes from Sunday were Montero and Kubel switching places in the order and Blum replacing Ryan Roberts at third.

Asked if Blum, a switch hitter, could see some time at third base as a left-handed-hitting option, Gibson said: “At this point, we have some thoughts about it. We’ll see how the spring ends up. Blummer still gets sore some times when I play him a lot, so we’ll see how he feels tomorrow.”

Blum and Melvin Mora were platoon candidates for the third-base job last spring before Blum suffered a knee injury and Roberts took the job in May.

TUESDAY PROBABLES

Rookie left-hander Patrick Corbin (0-0, 0.84) will make his second start of the spring against Rockies opening-day starter Jeremy Guthrie (0-00, 2.31) at Salt River Fields at 1:10 p.m. The D-backs visit Coors Field from April 13-15, but Guthrie is not expected to pitch in the series.

Corbin, who some scouts believe fits best in a major league bullpen, has been a pleasant surprise this spring. He has given up seven hits and five walks in 10 2/3 innings while striking out 12. Opponents are hitting .184 against him.

Daniel Hudson will start a minor league game Tuesday, in large part because he is in line to face Colorado on the second weekend of the regular season. Hudson, Josh Collmenter and Trevor Cahill are the D-backs’ expected starters for that series.

NOTE

Aaron Hill got a big lead and stole third base easily with one out in the third inning before Upton followed with an RBI double. The D-backs practiced base stealing in early work Monday. “We worked on techniques and reads, and Aaron Hill did it right away. In general, every day we are home we work on something, and the guys have been open and receptive and try to engage that in the games,” Gibson said.

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