By Greg Dillard
The final spots in the D-backs’ bullpen continue to be an ongoing competition with a month left of Spring Training
Right-handers Juan Gutierrez and Sam Demel did their part with impressive outings against the Los Angeles Angels on Friday.
In front of more than 8,000 at Tempe Diablo Stadium, Gutierrez and Demel both cruised through relatively easy innings despite a 9-8 loss for Arizona.
Gutierrez took the mound in the bottom of the fifth for Arizona, and immediately got Mark Trumbo to fly out to second baseman Kelly Johnson.
Angels’ catcher Bobby Wilson then got the only hit off of Gutierrez, a double to the right centerfield gap.
Although Los Angeles had a runner in scoring position, that was as far as it would get. Gutierrez responded by freezing Peter Bourjos on a strikeout, and then quickly sat down Maicer Izturis on another strikeout to end the inning.
For Gutierrez, it was a positive outing as he continues to prepare for the regular season.
“I’ve been making adjustments the last few outings,” Gutierrez said. “Working hard in the bullpen with my pitching coach.”
The late inning reliever has seen mixed results this Spring, but has quickly turned it around out on the rubber.
“He’s getting better,” D-backs manager Kirk Gibson said. “He’s starting to dump his curve ball over (for strikes), his sequence was way better today. He’s feeling much better about himself.
“He made some mechanical adjustments,” Gibson continued. “He worked in a bullpen then he pitched in another game. He threw the ball better. When he dumps his curveball over, I’ve said it all along, his fastball is much more dominant.”
After Gutierrez’s outing, it was Demel’s turn to face the Halos.
Demel got off to a fast start to the Spring season by throwing three consecutive scoreless outings before allowing a run last Tuesday against the Indians. He registered another scoreless outing against the Angels.
Demel induced Bobby Abreu into a groundout to start the bottom of the sixth inning. His only blemish came when Jeremy Moore singled to center one batter later, but that was it for the Angels. Demel then retired Vernon Wells on a ground out to third baseman Ryan Roberts.
Brandon Wood then popped out to second base to end the inning.
“I felt good,” Demel said. “The cutter was looking really good today, mixed in some good sliders. So I was pretty happy with today’s outing.”
While he was pleased with his work against the Angels, Demel is motivated to keep improving as Spring Training progresses.
“The next few weeks, I’m really just going to go out there and worry about controlling both sides of the plate,” Demel said. “With the cutter and the fastball, and trying to mix in a little bit of the off speed and get that ready. Mainly controlling both sides of the plate for me.”