Saito to DL; Miley makes opening-day roster
PHOENIX -- Diamondbacks reliever Takashi Saito will open the season on the disabled list with a medial right calf strain, D-backs manager Kirk Gibson said Wednesday.
Saito, 42, tweaked the calf warming up on Tuesday and was scratched from a scheduled appearance in Tuesday's exhibition at Chase Field. He went for an MRI on Wednesday morning, and the injury was a little more serious than believed Tuesday, so Saito will open the season on the 15-day D.L., retroactive to April 1. He's eligible to return as early as April 16.
"We're hoping that will be the case, that he'll be back (then)," Gibson said.
The D-backs signed Saito this winter knowing full well they were taking a risk on the veteran pitcher's health. They even gave him a one-year contract worth $1.75 million without requiring he take a physical because, as general manager Kevin Towers put it, they knew he would fail it.
"We felt that the risk wasn't that big of a risk for us," Towers said early in the spring. "We thought that his skill set and what he could bring to the club far outweighed the risk."
Gibson said Saito has dealt with this injury before, but early last season with the Milwaukee Brewers it was a hamstring strain that landed him on the disabled list after just two appearances. While rehabbing that injury, Saito strained an oblique and also experience shoulder tightness.
The combined injuries cost Saito most of the first half of the season and limited him to 30 appearances and a career low 26 2/3 innings, though he was effective after returning just before the All-Star break. The D-backs expected Saito to be their seventh inning specialist and had him on a lighter workout program this spring.
With Saito's spot open in the bullpen, the D-backs opted to keep left-hander Wade Miley to serve as a long reliever, which could be more important early in the season than later.
"One of my concerns has been length in the bullpen," Gibson said. "I was uncomfortable without (Miley) in the bullpen. … Right now your starters aren't stretched out as much so you tend to rely more on your bullpen."
Miley made seven appearances this spring, including one start. In six relief appearances covering 14 2/3 innings, he posted a 3.07 ERA. He gives the D-backs three left-handers in the bullpen, along with Joe Paterson and Craig Breslow.
Gibson said Bryan Shaw will be part of the late-relief plan, presumably the seventh inning, with David Hernandez handling the eighth and J.J. Putz closing.
After a strong spring, it seemed left-handed reliever Mike Zagurski might get a shot in the bullpen, but he was outrighted Wednesday to Triple-A Reno.