Notes: Davis to remain on track
Lefty to make next start despite Thursday's close call
TUCSON, Ariz. -- You could almost hear the collective gasps of breath coming from the D-backs dugout when Reggie Willits' sharp one-hopper struck southpaw Doug Davis in his throwing arm to begin the third inning on Thursday.The ball, though, just missed Davis' elbow, instead hitting him on the forearm. He said he would be ready to go his next time out, but he may need to skip his regular between-starts side session. "Not the first time I've been hit there, so nothing new, really," he said. "I think, during the regular season, I would have fought to say in there. Another five days and I'll be back out there. It was muscle. It didn't hit [bone]." Despite the early departure, Davis was still able to get his work in against the Angels, allowing three runs on three hits over two-plus innings. He struck out two and walked one. "I felt good," he said. "I was throwing my cutter pretty well today. I just made mistakes, but that wasn't the thing I was disappointed in. I was disappointed in the walk." That's what I'm talking about: Manager Bob Melvin, who publicly expressed his displeasure with his team's lack of aggressiveness on the basepaths on Wednesday, was much happier with things on Thursday. Orlando Hudson did a nice job of moving up on a ball in the dirt, and catcher Robby Hammock went from first to third on a single in the third.
"Good baserunning today," said Melvin, who met with the hitters on Thursday morning to reemphasize his expectations. "The guys really made a great effort to do some things that you're normally not used to doing. They followed orders today."Getting interesting: The battle for the final position-player spot on the roster has been an intense one between Scott Hairston, Hammock, Dave Krynzel and Brian Barden. A new twist is starting to emerge. Outfielder Jeff DaVanon, who is penciled in as the team's backup outfielder, has been slow to recover from offseason ankle and shoulder surgeries, opening up the possibility that two of the four could wind up making the team.
"We'll just say how it plays out," Melvin said.Hammock was impressive again on Thursday, going 2-for-2 with a home run and three RBIs. "Here's a catcher going first to third, didn't even think twice about it," Melvin said. "Just put his head down and went to third base and kind of started everything and fittingly hit a nice three-run homer to tie it up and had a very nice day behind the plate. We've seen that he's a guy that can help you out in any number of ways, and when he's swinging the bat well, that's another plus." Figuring it out: Randy Johnson will throw again on Saturday. As for whether it will be a sixth bullpen session or his first live batting-practice session remains to be decided. Also yet to be determined is whether Johnson will throw in Phoenix, where the D-backs will be to play the Brewers, or if he'll do it in Tucson. "He feels good," Melvin said. "Physically, there's no problem, we're just working out the logistics." As to whether Johnson would need two batting-practice sessions before he gets into a Cactus League game, Melvin said, "That's the schedule that everyone's been on. That's part of our scheduling, so we'll probably look to a couple of those." Game notes: Reliever Tony Pena worked a scoreless ninth on Thursday. "Pena was the best I've seen him," Melvin said. "His command was better, his rhythm was better. When he's spotting his fastball, it means his arm is in a good slot." Dustin Nippert, who is battling for one of the final spots in the rotation, threw two perfect innings. "He threw some changeups, had a better breaking ball again -- one that looks like it's going to play a little bit better as far as a secondary pitch he can throw for a strike," Melvin said. "It's certainly going to help him, because one of the keys for him is getting his secondary pitches over the plate." Reliever Casey Daigle allowed one hit in his inning of work. "Daigle went out there with some intensity today, too," Melvin said. Terms: Carlos Gonzalez, Dave Krynzel, Evan MacLane, Jailen Peguero, Mike Schultz and Doug Slaten will all make the Major League minimum of $380,000 if they play in the Majors this year, based on contracts they signed last week. Brandon Medders will make $390,500, Dana Eveland $382,000 and Daigle $381,500. Up next: The D-backs will play host to the White Sox at 1:05 p.m. MST on Friday, with Edgar Gonzalez getting the start against Jon Garland. Micah Owings will follow Gonzalez to the mound, as will Jorge Julio, Brandon Lyon, Mike Schultz and Chad Harville.
Steve Gilbert is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.