Archive for the ‘ Dailies ’ Category

Parra, Gutierrez Heating Up As Season Approaches

02272010-st-jw1812 (1).JPG
Photography: Jon Willey
By Greg Dillard
The outstanding play of D-backs outfielder Gerardo Parra has turned some heads this Spring. 
After arriving to camp in stellar shape, Parra is enjoying the best Spring Training of his young career. He has emerged as a regular in manager Kirk Gibson’s lineup, and produced when given the opportunity. 
Parra is currently boasting a .350 batting average to go with his two homers and 10 RBI.
It was more of the same for Parra on Friday against the Mariners. In his first at-bat, Parra  drilled a single into center field to plate the D-backs first run of the game. After being hit by a pitch in his second plate appearance, Parra raced around the bases to score on Willie Bloomquist’s single. 
Gibson believes the impressive results are due to Parra’s hard work this Spring.
“He’s just playing well,” Gibson said. “All the hard work has paid off. He’s played a lot too, but he’s conditioned himself, strengthened himself. He’s worked a lot with Don Baylor trying to correct some things that he’s been doing the past few years.”
Gibson believes Parra is noticing the results of his new workout habits.
“I think he kind of feels the difference it’s making on him,” Gibson said. “His body is changing. He’s getting more cut, way stronger in his core, throwing a lot better, running a lot more.”
Since his arrival to the Major Leagues in 2009, Parra has seen regular playing time as the team’s fourth outfielder. Through his first two seasons in the big leagues, Parra is a career .277 hitter with 40 doubles. 
However thanks to his impressive Spring, Parra could possibly receive the majority of innings and at-bats in left field this season. 
While Parra could play center field to give Chris Young an occasional day off, Gibson believes his skills best suit him for the corner outfield spots. 
“He’s really effective on the corners, either corner,” Gibson said. “His arm comes into play. He really runs the ball down well in the corners. He’s running better, though, this year.”
Allen flashes leather at first base
Since Gibson took over as D-backs manager, he has stressed the importance of adequate defense.
On Friday, the Mariners kept first baseman Brandon Allen busy fielding his position. Through the first three innings, Allen hauled in four batted balls, fielding them with ease to retire each Seattle hitter.
Allen even turned in a highlight reel catch by diving to his right to snare a Josh Bard line drive. For Allen, defense could prove to be a deciding factor for the young D-back as he continues to fight for playing time at first base.
“I feel comfortable,” Allen said. “Getting in there, and just making routine plays. I got a lot of action over there finally. Past couple starts, haven’t gotten too many balls, but it was good today.” 
As Spring Training progress, the D-backs continue to focus on strong defense as a team. Allen said he’s just glad to contribute in the field. 
“Collectively as a team, we’re pretty solid defensively, I believe,” Allen said. “So everybody’s got to do their part, and being able to help out is awesome.” 
Gutierrez shuts down Mariners in seventh
In the top of the seventh and with the score knotted at 4-4, Juan Gutierrez toed the rubber against the Mariners in his seventh outing of the Spring. He made short order of the Seattle lineup by retiring the side in order.
The right-hander induced a ground out to first base off the bat of leadoff man Gabe Gross to start the inning. Mike Wilson was next and he didn’t fare much better as Gutierrez induced another ground out. One batter later, Gutierrez struck out Josh Bard to cap off the 1-2-3 frame. 
Friday’s inning against the Mariners was Gutierrez’s fourth consecutive scoreless outing. 
“I’m ready to go to the season,” Gutierrez said. “I fixed everything that I got to fix. So now I’m ready to go into the season.” 

Montero Excels, Heilman Fights for Rotation Spot in Glendale

By Greg Dillard
Miguel Montero has proven to be a force at the plate throughout his first five seasons in the Major Leagues. When he is hot, Montero’s bat can change the complexion of the D-backs lineup.
In a St. Patricks’ Day matchup against the Dodgers, Montero was the lightning rod behind the Arizona offense.
In the top of the second inning, he laced a single into center field to start a two-out rally. One batter later, Montero crossed home plate on Ryan Roberts’ double off the left field wall.
Montero struck again in the fourth inning. After Justin Upton and Russell Branyan reached base, Montero rocketed a Chad Billingsley offering into the right-centerfield gap to plate both runners.
As his sixth big league season nears, Montero is starting to find his stroke at the plate.
“Today, I think is the best I’ve felt all Spring Training,” Montero said. “I feel like I’m closer to the season so I need to get ready.” 
Heilman makes case for spot in rotation
Aaron Heilman entered Spring Training with his sights set on making his way into the D-backs starting rotation.
After spending last season as a reliable reliever in the Arizona bullpen, Heilman has done his part to possibly earn a rotation spot. On Thursday, Heilman started against the Dodgers and became the first D-backs pitcher to pitch through five innings this Spring. 
“I felt like I was settling in out there,” Heilman said. “Felt like I could’ve kept going out there. I didn’t feel tired. I felt like the work I put in the offseason has really helped, and put me in a position to compete.”
Heilman cruised through the first inning behind a strikeout and double play. In the second, Heilman struck out Matt Kemp and got James Loney to fly out. 
The right-hander then shattered Juan Uribe’s bat on an inside pitch to get a groundout and end the inning. Heilman would fight through the next two innings, allowing only Kemp’s two run homer to left.
In his fifth and final inning of work, Heilman ended his day on a high note by retiring Andre Ethier and Kemp on fly outs for the first two outs. Loney smacked a single, but that was all for the Dodger offense as Heilman struck out Uribe with ease.
Following his longest outing of the Spring, Heilman was pleased with the results.  
“I felt pretty good,” Heilman said. “I was able to make some adjustments from the last start, kept the ball down for the most part. Hung a pitch to Kemp, and he doesn’t miss many of those. Other than that, felt like a good job pitching out of a jam in the third. Arm felt good, body felt good, feel like I’m right where I need to be.” 
Competition for roster spots far from settled
Between the roster players and non-roster invitees, the D-backs knew this Spring would be a time for heavy competition.
As Spring Training heads into the final two weeks, the battle for the final roster spots are still yet to be determined. 
“We’ve got a lot of games coming up right now,” D-backs manager Kirk Gibson said. “We stayed around last night had a lot of discussion. I don’t think there’s a real consensus at this time. If I had to pick my team today, I’m not sure it’s as clear as everybody thinks it is.” 
Branyan and Wily Mo Pena have been pleasant surprises this Spring after entering camp on minor league deals. 
The competition for starting first baseman duties is still in full swing with Juan Miranda, Brandon Allen and Branyan all trying to make their case. 
The final two spots in the starting rotation are also wide open. Heilman, Armando Galarraga and Barry Enright are vying for inclusion. 
The strong play of several of these players will force Gibson and his staff to make difficult decisions in the coming weeks.
“It’s just a lot of things to take in consideration,” Gibson said. “Obviously, you want to pick your best 25 guys. You have to weigh other things like experience; sometimes you get fooled by Spring Training performance. At this point, I would say there’s a lot of things to be determined.” 

Miranda, Branyan & Allen Still Competing for Spot

03162011-ST-LAA-jm0085-mlb.jpg
Photography: Jordan Megenhardt
By Greg Dillard
With less than three left in Spring Training, the position battle at first base still appears to be wide open for the D-backs.
The trio vying for playing time: Juan Miranda, Russell Branyan, and Brandon Allen all continue to hit well. 
It was Miranda who stood out in Wednesday afternoon’s game against the Angels. He received the start at first base, and took advantage of the opportunity. 
In the bottom of the fourth inning, Miranda launched a long two run home run to right field. That long ball was his third of the Spring. Miranda now owns a .294 batting average to go with a .618 slugging percentage. 
In his third plate appearance, Miranda rocketed a single back up the middle in the fifth. 
Miranda made it a three hit afternoon by hitting a leadoff single into right field to start the bottom of the eighth. 
It was a big offensive day for Miranda, who had cooled off a bit at the plate recently. 
“He’s had a couple crappy games,” manager Kirk Gibson said. “He came back and played well, looking good at the plate. He’s pretty competitive.”
Branyan entered the Spring as a non-roster invitee, but has proven himself to be a threat at the plate. The left-handed hitter has collected 16 hits, nine RBI, three home runs and an outstanding .794 slugging percentage.  
Against the Angels, Branyan pinch hit in the bottom of the fifth, and continued his hot hitting by lacing a single into right field.
After advancing to second base on a wild pitch, he would then score on Chris Young’s single.
As camp progresses, Branyan continues to make a statement for inclusion on the roster.
“He’s had a good spring,” General Manager Kevin Towers said. “He hasn’t done anything to hurt himself. He’s performed very well. He’s certainly probably been one of our better offensive players we’ve had this Spring.”
Allen has been off to a strong start at the plate this Spring as well, batting .343 with four doubles. 

http://www.flickr.com/apps/slideshow/show.swf?v=71649

Notes from SRF: Kennedy To Start Opening Day

03152011-SRF-jm0053-120.jpg
Photography: Jordan Megenhardt
By Greg Dillard
After much anticipation, the D-backs have finally selected a pitcher to serve as their Opening Day starter on April 1 against Colorado.
One year after fighting through Spring Training attempting to crack the Major League roster, Ian Kennedy now finds himself receiving the honor of starting the first regular season game of 2011.
“You know it’s a possibility, but I knew I had a couple people in front of me,” Kennedy said. “It’s just a big honor. It’s something you dream about as a little kid. You want to be that Opening Day guy. It’s a big honor. I’m at a loss for words.” 
Last season was Kennedy’s first year in Arizona after being acquired from the New York Yankees in an offseason trade. In 2009, Kennedy missed an extended amount of time due to aneurysm surgery and pitched in only one game at the Major League level. 
As a new D-back, Kennedy did not disappoint by quickly establishing himself as a mainstay in the starting rotation. He notched nine wins and a solid 3.80 ERA in his 32 starts. In his first full season in the big leagues, Kennedy managed to throw a career high 194 innings. 
He capped off a strong first season by allowing two runs or less in six of his last nine starts. Of those nine starts, Kennedy pitched at least five innings in all but one of them. The right-hander notched 168 strikeouts, a rate of 7.8 per nine innings. 
For Kennedy, he entered this Spring with a different approach compared to years past. 
“Coming in here last year, (I was) trying to make the team,” Kennedy said. “This year, just happy that I can treat Spring Training like most guys on the roster treat Spring Training and not try to make the team. Just trying to get ready for the season. I knew the Opening Day spot was kind of up for grabs. So that was in the back of my mind that it was possible.”
This will be Kennedy’s first career Opening Day start, and he is the sixth D-backs pitcher to start on Opening Day, joining Andy Benes, Randy Johnson, Javier Vazquez, Brandon Webb and Dan Haren. The D-backs are confident that he is the right man for the job. 
“He pitched very good for this ball club last year,” General Manager Kevin Towers said. “He finished strong, almost logged 200 innings. He’s a pitcher. I mean this guy has four pitches. He throws them all for strikes. He’s a guy that I don’t think will have any fear for being an Opening Day starter. He’ll probably look at this start like any other start.
“He’ll go out and give you everything that he has. I’m looking for him to have some success out there. Happy for him, that’s quite an honor for a young pitcher that’s got less than two years experience in the big leagues.” 
Young heating up at plate
D-backs outfielder Chris Young is capable of hitting almost anywhere in the starting lineup. Young not only has experience in the leadoff spot, but throughout the middle part of the order as well. 
On Tuesday night against the San Francisco Giants, Young was penciled in manager Kirk Gibson’s leadoff spot. In the bottom of the first, Young unloaded on a Madison Bumgarner pitch and smacked it into the lawn seating in left-center field. 
After walking in his second at bat, Young laced another extra base hit in the fifth inning, this time a double off of Giants pitcher Guillermo Mota. 
With two more hits against the Giants, Young is heating up at the plate this Spring, hitting .316 with two home runs and five doubles. The recent success has been the result of a calm approach and plenty of work for Young.
“Just trying to see the ball,” Young said. “I’ve been working a lot on my approach at the plate and in my path with my swing with (Don) Baylor quite a bit. Just trying to stay calm and patient at the plate. I’ve really been trying to see pitches this Spring and not get too aggressive.”
Young’s play earned him All-Star honors in 2010 when he represented the D-backs in Anaheim. He finished the season with impressive numbers including 27 home runs, 91 RBI and 33 doubles. 
Young hopes that consistency at the plate will help him duplicate his 2010 success.
“I did kind of find my swing per say last year, and it’s a better feeling going into the offseason knowing what you feel like you need to work on,” Young said. “This offseason I stuck with my approach, and I feel like I have it down better right now even than I did last year. So hopefully I’ll get good results from it.”  

Gutierrez, Demel Make Strong Pitches for Bullpen Spots

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.”

Upton, Young Give Cricket a Try

02192011-ST-jm0145-mlb.jpg

Photography: Jordan Megenhardt
By Greg Salvatore
If Justin Upton and Chris Young were born in England or India or the Trobriand Islands rather than the exotic locales of Virginia and Texas, they might be swinging a different kind of bat.
Back in February, Upton and Young tried the sport that has some similarities — and some vast differences — to the sport with which they make their livelihood.
Aditya Thyagarajan and Abhimanyu Rajp, players on the U.S. national cricket team, came to Salt River Fields at Talking Stick to give the D-backs outfielders a lesson in the sport, and give them a chance to go deep.
Jim Caple of ESPN.com was on hand to document the meeting:

http://espn.go.com/videohub/player/embed.swf

My favorite part of that video? At least one of their teammates thought it was as much fun as they did. Perhaps learning how to be a bowler, as they call it in cricket, D-backs pitcher Barry Enright shows up around the 2:30 mark shooting some video.
It was a fun afternoon, and Upton and Young developed a new respect for the hugely popular international sport.
Photographer Jordan Megenhardt was on the scene to capture some images.

http://www.flickr.com/apps/slideshow/show.swf?v=71649

D-backs, White Sox Reunite in Tucson

Proceeds Benefited the Christina-Taylor Green Memorial Fund

Photography: Jordan Megenhardt
The D-backs took on the Chicago White Sox at Kino Stadium today, as the teams who once shared a facility in Tucson reunited in the Old Pueblo.
Proceeds from the game benefitted the Christina-Taylor Green Memorial Fund. The fund was established at the Community Foundation for Southern Arizona by the Green family to receive gifts in memory of Christina. 
Doug Padilla has a nice story from the White Sox’ perspective over at ESPN
Chicago
. Christina’s mother, Roxanna Green, said the proceeds will benefit children in Tucson, starting with those at her daughter’s elementary school:
“Right now, we’re going to build a playground at Christina and Dallas’ school, Mesa Verde Elementary,” Roxanna Green said. “That’s something they desperately need. They’ve had the same playground equipment for years and years and years. We’re going to replace the PE equipment — possibly buy smart boards, computers, and a lot of companies hopefully will step forward and help us out if they’re willing to let us purchase it at cost so we can provide as much as we can for the children at the school.
“Down the road, we’ll help other schools. We’ll help refurbish other parks for children, help kids go to college, help the less fortunate.”
A crowd 7,419 was on hand to see the White Sox beat the D-backs, 12-1 (a D-backs split squad unit also played in Surprise against the Kansas City Royals, winning that game 8-6).
Our photographer, Jordan Megenhardt, was at the game in Tucson. Here are some of his images.?

Kennedy Cruises Through Second Spring Start

http://www.flickr.com/apps/slideshow/show.swf?v=71649

Photography: Jordan Megenhardt
By Greg Dillard
It was a perfect day for baseball at Salt River Fields on Friday as the Arizona Diamondbacks hosted the San Diego Padres in front of a sellout crowd. 
In his second outing of the Spring, Ian Kennedy made it look easy on the mound as he mowed through the Padres’ lineup. Kennedy is counted on to be an important piece of the D-backs rotation once again this season, and the right-hander clearly threw well on Friday.
In the first inning, Kennedy allowed a leadoff single to Eric Patterson, who was then caught stealing by D-backs catcher Miguel Montero. Kennedy struck out Jason Bartlett looking and retired Orlando Hudson via a groundout to first base.
Kennedy said his command was much improved from his first outing.
“I think as soon as you get your rhythm down, your timing is all there,” Kennedy said. “My fastball command was good. There’s some times where I missed my spot, but it helped because I got some outs on it too.” 
Kennedy also said he has been watching film of his previous starts to gauge where his tempo and rhythm was. 
In the top of the second inning, Jorge Cantu grounded out to third for the first out of the inning. Kennedy then froze Chris Denorfia on a breaking ball for a strikeout. 
Jesus Guzman singled to center, but was stranded as Kennedy responded by getting the last out of the inning on an Aaron Cunningham fly out.
Kennedy’s third and final inning was even more impressive.
The first two batters of the inning: Guillermo Quiroz and Tim Stauffer both struck out. Patterson then grounded out to cap off the 1-2-3 frame.
That would be all for Kennedy as he finished with a final line of three innings, two hits and four strikeouts. 
“I was really happy with my tempo, my rhythm,” Kennedy said. “I wasn’t happy with that last time. Physically, I felt good my previous outing, but I wasn’t happy with my tempo. I was leaving too many balls over the plate. This time I felt like my tempo was good. I tried slowing down.”
Borchering sees time at third
Among the many D-backs prospects that have taken the field this Spring Training is third baseman Bobby Borchering. The former 2009 first round draft pick is starting to see more time at third base and in the batter’s box. 
In Friday’s matchup against the Padres, Borchering laced a two out single into left field in the bottom of the fifth. 
Borchering hopes to take advantage of the opportunities to play in the Major League games. 
“It’s great,” Borchering said. “Anytime you can get in there, get a chance to play in front of a lot of people like you will in the regular season and get in there and get a little action a little earlier, I feel is an advantage for me.” 
Last season, Borchering posted a .270 batting average with 15 home runs and 74 RBI while playing for Single-A South Bend. For his first full season in professional baseball, Borchering felt like it was a great learning experience. 
“South Bend was a great city for me,” Borchering said. “My manager, Haley, was just great working with me. I learned a lot through the year. It was a great year.” 
With his the start of his regular season over a month away, Borchering has high goals for the rest of Spring Training.
“My goals for the Spring are to try and keep a little bit of weight on,” Borchering said. “I can sometimes get weight off pretty quick. Trying to eat a little bit more, and rest a lot. Just mentally, get in my routines and sticking with those, and keeping things simple.”

A Look This Weekend’s D-backs Pitching

02252011-ST-SFG-jm0207.JPG


David Hernandez – Photography: Jordan Megehardt
By Greg Salvatore
Ian Kennedy is making his second start of the Spring today against the San Diego Padres (this is the last time the D-backs will see their San Diego rivals until the regular season).
We haven’t given you a pitching update in a few days, so here’s a look at the pitchers who will be toeing the rubber over the next four days.
Friday vs Padres at Salt River Fields
Ian Kennedy
Mike Hampton
Juan Gutierrez
Daniel Stange
Joe Paterson 
Leyson Septimo
Yonata Ortega
Jordan Norberto
Josh Collmenter
Saturday vs. Rangers at Salt River Fields
Barry Enright
Armando Galarraga
Micah Owings
Rafael Rodriguez
Jordan Norberto
Sam Demel
Kevin Mulvey
Sunday vs Angels at Tempe Diablo Stadium
Joe Saunders
Wade Miley
Brian Sweeney
David Hernandez
Kam Mickolio
Esmerling Vasquez
Monday vs. Royals at Surprise Stadium
Aaron Heilman
J.J. Putz
Josh Collmenter
Zach Kroenke
Monday vs. White Sox at Kino Stadium in Tucson
Zach Duke
Kevin Mulvey
Carlos Rosa
Jarrod Parker
The highlight of this list, to me, appears to be J.J. Putz’s inning against the Royals on Monday. Putz has been throwing plenty of side sessions in Spring Training so far, but this will be his first game inning.  
David Hernandez has looked excellent, throwing three scoreless innings in his first three outings, with two strikeouts. He’s one of the best options for the eighth inning this year, a guy who can throw strikes, miss bats and performed at a high level in the AL East, the most vicious division in the league. 
Aaron Heilman has looked fantastic in both of his starts, giving up only one hit and no runs in five innings. When he signed as a free agent, he wanted an opportunity to start. He has taken that opportunity and run with it. While he has proven he’s a reliable bullpen arm in the past, any default thought that he’d go to the bullpen because of the starting depth on this team has now flown out the window. So far, he looks like he’s going to force the front office to make some tough decisions on the roster, which is exactly the kind of competition Kirk Gibson has been promoting this year.

Parker & Upton Shine in Peoria Thursday

02252011-ST-SFG-jm0149.JPG

Photography: Jordan Megenhardt
By Greg Dillard
After making his 2011 Spring Training debut last week against the Colorado Rockies, D-backs pitcher Jarrod Parker returned to the mound on Thursday against the Padres.
The highly regarded prospect pounded the zone with strikes and threw two scoreless frames. 
With a 3-2 lead, Parker entered in the bottom of the fourth, and battled to a full count against Padres leadoff batter Luis Durango. Parker then retired Durango on a ground out to second base.
One batter later, Eric Patterson reached third base on a double and a stolen base. But Parker set down Chris Denorfia and pinch hitter Aaron Cunningham on fly outs to third baseman Geoff Blum, and got out of the inning unscathed. 
Similar to his first outing, Parker was able to tighten up and keep the opposing offense from scoring. 
“Definitely a lot more comfortable,” Parker said. “I relaxed a little bit. I threw a little less in the ‘pen going two innings. I wanted to get through the two clean and stay with a good energy level the whole time.”
Parker’s energy level certainly seemed rock solid when he returned to the rubber in the bottom of the fifth for his second inning of work. He picked up where he left off the inning before by retiring Chase Headley on a ground ball to Ryan Roberts at second base. 
The next batter, Nick Hundley, didn’t fare much better as he flew out to left field. 
After allowing a single to Oscar Salazar, Parker got Kevin Frandsen to fly out to center field to end the inning.
While Parker allowed three walks in his first outing, he did not issue a walk against the Padres. 
“I was getting over my front side, and getting ahead of guys,” Parker said. “Then going in and out as much as I could and just letting guys get themselves out versus trying to strike everybody out.” 
In his two innings, Parker threw 31 pitches, 20 of which were strikes.
“Much better (than his outing Monday),” D-backs manager Kirk Gibson said of Parker. “I thought it was much better. Threw the ball better, ball was down more. Moved it all around better, had better location.” 
With Spring Training still in its early stages, Parker hopes to build off of each of his outings.
“I feel pretty good,” Parker said. “I’m just preparing for the season and I’m just trying to take each outing into the next one and keep building.” 
Upton heating up at plate
Most opposing pitchers are aware that when D-backs outfielder Justin Upton puts the barrel of the bat on the ball, it tends to go a long way. After doubling twice on Wednesday, the D-backs right fielder provided plenty of offense against San Diego on Thursday. 
Against the Padres, Upton singled in his first at-bat. Then in the top of the fourth inning he unloaded on a Greg Burke pitch, driving it into the left-field lawn seating for a two-run homer. 
That blast was Upton’s first home run of the Spring. 
“I just got a good pitch and hit it,” Upton said. “That’s what our goal is this Spring Training, get good pitches and put a good swing on it.”
While Upton has had a nice week at the plate, he is still not where he wants to be. 
“The more work we do out there in practice and beforehand helps us out,” Upton said. “As many days as we can get, as many reps as we can get in the game, the rust starts to come off. Near the end of Spring Training, you want to be comfortable. You get your work in now.”  
Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.