Preview the opposition: Arizona Diamondbacks
So much for spring training.
J.J. Putz threw only 30 or so pitches while making two appearances in major league spring training games, part of his spring regimen that was heavy on early long toss and bullpen work.
And right when Putz was ready to crank it up to reach his expected seven or eight appearances, he was shelved for almost two weeks because of tightness in his back suffered while warming up for his third outing, although he did manage back-to-back appearances against Mexican League teams the final week of March.
Early results indicate the lack of work was no big deal.
Putz has retired all six batters he has faced while converting both of his save appearances on the D-backs' season-opening trip to Colorado and Chicago. He had two strikeouts in 1-2-3 11th inning in a 7-6 victory at Colorado on April 1, then got a strikeout and two pop-ups in a 1-2-3 ninth of a 6-4 victory at Chicago on Wednesday.
"He's a veteran guy," manager Kirk Gibson said. "He came in and threw strikes and got us through it."
Putz signed a two-year, $10 million free agent deal as the major piece in general manager Kevin Towers' bullpen remake, and his presence has been reassuring.
Putz throws a low-90 mph fastball, and he had had success while mixing in his split-finger pitch (at Colorado) and a slider (Chicago). The split-finger finally felt good in Colorado, he said.
"I was able to figure a little bit of it out," Putz said. "I got some good swings and misses on it."
--RHP J.J. Putz converted his second save in as many opportunities Wednesday and has allowed a base runner in two perfect innings this season. He struck out two of the three batters he faced in the 11th inning of a 7-6 victory at Colorado on April 1 and struck out one in saving a 6-4 victory at the Chicago Cubs on Wednesday. Putz has logged more innings in the first six days of the regular season than he did in 27 spring training games, when he pitched 1 1/3 innings in major league games while on a program that relied more on long toss and bullpen work. He missed almost two weeks because of tightness in his back.
--SS Stephen Drew (lower abdominal strain) made only a pinch-hit appearance in the first five games of the season, but could be ready to play the field in the home opener Friday, manager Kirk Gibson said. "Possibly, I guess; he's got to gain his comfort level," manager Kirk Gibson said. "We don't want to blow him out."
--IF/OF Willie Bloomquist has a five-game hitting streak and leads the majors with five stolen bases while filling for Stephen Drew at shortstop and as the leadoff hitter. Bloomquist had eight stolen bases in 83 games with Kansas City and Cincinnati last season.
--RHP Ian Kennedy, who start the D-backs' season opener, also will start the home opener Friday because of Thursday's day off and the snow-out in Colorado last Sunday. Kennedy gave up three earned runs in six innings in a no-decision in the opener at Colorado.
--The D-backs and Rockies are scheduled to make up the April 3 postponement as part of a day-night doubleheader at Coors Field on May 24, the next time the D-backs visit Arizona. Both teams are off on May 23, but that will remain a day off.
--Roland Hemond is to throw out the ceremonial first pitch Friday. Hemond, a former general manager of the Chicago White Sox and Baltimore, was named by the Hall of Fame as the second winner of the Buck O'Neil Lifetime Achievement Award. The award goes to the person who enhances baseball's impact on society while exemplifying the character, dignity and integrity exhibited by O'Neil.
BY THE NUMBERS: 2 -- D-backs who have hit safely in every game this season, SS Willie Bloomquist and C Miguel Montero.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "I kept calling it because they kept swinging at it. Until they make adjustment, I'm going to keep calling it." -- C Miguel Montero, who had RHP Armando Galarraga throwing a steady diet of sliders in a 6-4 victory over the Cubs on Wednesday.
--SS Stephen Drew (abdominal strain) did not start any of the Diamondbacks' first four games through April 5. He is day-to-day. Manager Kirk Gibson said he might be able to start the home opener on Friday.
--INF Geoff Blum (sore right knee) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to March 22. He should be ready to return in early April.
--LHP Zach Duke (broken left hand) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to March 22. He was hit by a line drive March 12, and he will be out until May.
• RHP Ian Kennedy
• RHP Daniel Hudson
• RHP Joe Saunders
• RHP Barry Enright
• RHP Armando Galarraga
• RHP J.J. Putz (closer)
• RHP David Hernandez
• RHP Juan Gutierrez
• RHP Sam Demel
• RHP Aaron Heilman
• LHP Joe Paterson
• LHP Jordan Norberto
• Miguel Montero
• Henry Blanco
• 1B Russell Branyan
• 2B Kelly Johnson
• SS Stephen Drew
• 3B Melvin Mora
• INF Juan Miranda
• INF/OF Willie Bloomquist
• INF/OF Ryan Roberts
• LF Gerardo Parra
• CF Chris Young
• RF Justin Upton
• OF/INF Xavier Nady