PHOENIX -- D-backs No. 5 starter Billy Buckner has made it to the big leagues before. Three times before. Now he's trying to stay.
"Consistency, that's really what keeps you in the big leagues, is being able to do it," Buckner said prior to Arizona's game Saturday against the Toronto Blue Jays. "Guys can come up here and have successful games and back them with two poor outings. That's pretty much the difference in stabilizing a Major League career."
Buckner has pitched in parts of three MLB seasons, beginning with the Kansas City Royals in 2007 and continuing in Arizona since '08. Now, he's trying to earn a more permanent spot behind Dan Haren, Edwin Jackson, Ian Kennedy and Rodrigo Lopez in the D-backs' rotation. The 26-year-old right-hander will have his second opportunity of '10, when he takes the mound opposing Shaun Marcum in Sunday's series finale, to prove he belongs.
With injured veteran Kris Benson working his way back from a right-shoulder strain and other fifth-starter candidates available at Triple-A Reno, Buckner knows how important his limited chances are. In his first start on Tuesday in Florida, he allowed two earned runs on six hits over five innings.
Buckner has never faced the Jays, but he said watching Haren and Jackson attack their potent lineup can add to his "feel" for their approach.
"We know they're going to be aggressive," Buckner said. "That's something we have to match."
Good timing for Snyder's day off
PHOENIX -- D-backs manager A.J. Hinch had already planned to start John Hester behind the plate for Saturday's game against the Toronto Blue Jays. That's good because starting catcher Chris Snyder's agenda was chock-full.
Hester batted eighth and caught starting pitcher Edwin Jackson, while Snyder was with his wife, Carla, who gave birth to Trevor, the couple's second son and third child, at 4:52 MST.
"It was good timing for that, too," Hinch said of the lineup change.
Hester, who was recalled from Triple-A Reno on April 11 to help fill the void left by Miguel Montero (torn meniscus in right knee), went 2-for-4 at the plate on Monday against the Florida Marlins. That busted him out of an 0-for-15 rut in the batter's box. Hester also caught Jackson, who tossed eight shutout innings against the Marlins and, on Saturday, allowed five runs on six hits over 7 2/3 grames.
"Hester and Jackson have worked very well together," Hinch said.
Abreu starts, gives Drew day off
PHOENIX -- The D-backs don't solely need to start packing for their three-city, nine-game road trip that begins on Tuesday in Colorado. They also need to be fresh for it.
Leave that task to the lineup-maker, manager A.J. Hinch, who on Saturday decided to start utility infielder Tony Abreu at shortstop, giving a day off to Stephen Drew.
Abreu, who has filled in at second base, third base and shortstop, entered Game 2 of Arizona's series against the Toronto Blue Jays batting .405 (17-for-42) in 10 starts this season. He was slated to bat second, with left fielder Conor Jackson dropping a slot to third in the order.
Hinch said he's likely to rest another starter or two for Sunday's series finale.
Kris Benson, currently on the 15-day disabled list with a right-shoulder strain, was with the D-backs prior to Saturday's game. Benson, who is scheduled to continue his rehab assignment with a start Monday for Triple-A Reno, took batting practice with his fellow pitchers. ... Miguel Montero, also working his way off of the 15-day DL, took batting practice, too. Montero also made strides this week, catching in the bullpen, blocking balls and throwing to the bases ... Reliever Esmerling Vasquez had put together three straight scoreless outings, lowering his season ERA to 5.11. "I feel good right now," Vasquez said, adding that he sharpened his mechanics. "My confidence is back." ... Manager A.J. Hinch wasn't surprised that the Toronto Blue Jays lashed six dingers in Friday night's game. "They came in with that reputation," Hinch said. "They lead the world in home runs." They also held the Major League lead with 72 through 44 games, while the D-backs were third, with 56 through 43.
Andrew Pentis is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.