SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- The D-backs have committed seven errors in back-to-back losses to the Rockies, and manager Kirk Gibson is not happy. But one thing he wasn't critical about after Tuesday's 7-4 loss to Colorado at Salt River Field is the continuing throwing problems exhibited by Xavier Nady.Evidently, other teams have caught on, as illustrated by the Rockies in the third inning, when Seth Smith hit a routine fly ball to left field and pitcher Greg Smith tagged up at second and easily took third base. Nady lobbed the ball to the infield. Nady, who came up in the Padres organization and is one of six players with San Diego ties signed by Kevin Towers since he became D-backs general manager this past September, has been told to take it easy on his arm. He's had Tommy John surgery twice on his right elbow. "That's OK. I told Nady not to worry about throwing anybody out," Gibson said. "We want him to build his arm strength up. Just throw the ball to the advancing base. That's fine. That's where he is. It's either that or shut him down. The only way to get arm strength is for him to throw the way he is now. It may take him awhile. He may never throw like he did before. I don't want him to panic about that." Nady played seven games for the Yankees in 2009, and 119 games for the Cubs in '10, 28 of them in the outfield. About the team's overall play, Gibson said: "We didn't play very good again today. We'll fix that, though. It just looked like we were a little tired today. It's hard to pitch when you're not picking up the ball that well."
Opening Day nod would be honor for Saunders
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- D-backs manager Kirk Gibson hasn't named a starter yet for his club's opener against the Rockies at Coors Field on April 1, but all signs point to left-hander Joe Saunders, who said on Tuesday that he'd be honored to get the assignment.Saunders said after he pitched the first two innings against the Rockies on Tuesday at Salt River Fields that he hasn't spoken to Gibson about the possibility. It was his second start of the spring. "No, I have not," said Saunders, who allowed two runs on three hits, including a two-run homer to Rockies catcher Chris Iannetta in the D-backs' 7-4 loss.
2010 Spring Training - Arizona Diamondbacks
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Sights & Sounds
Spring Training Info
"It would obviously be a great honor if it would come about, but that's his decision. Whether I do or whether I don't, I'm going to go out there and do my job every fifth day."Gibson said after the game that an Opening Day starter has yet to fit into his calendar. He has starters for Cactus League play penciled out to an off-day for the club on March 14, but has yet to go beyond that date. "I'm not thinking about it," Gibson said. "I told you a long time ago that on the 14th I'll probably start thinking about it." Really, Gibson doesn't have any choices among the current crew of projected starters. Only Saunders has any Opening Day experience. Saunders was in his sixth season with the Angels last year when he was traded to the D-backs in the deal that netted Dan Haren for the Halos on July 25. And though the Angels had a plethora of great starting pitchers during Saunders' tenure, he still was given an Opening Day start on April 6, 2009, against the A's at Angel Stadium. Saunders bested Dallas Braden, 3-0, with 6 2/3 innings of three-hit, two-strikeout ball. "A couple guys had injuries early on and I got the nod," Saunders recalled. "It was a great honor. I can remember that I was really nervous, but at the same time I was locked in, and it was a great experience, pitching in front of a packed house and a home crowd. It was a great opportunity."
Branyan making his case to play first base
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- D-backs general manager Kevin Towers signed veteran Russell Branyan to a Minor League contract this spring, and manager Kirk Gibson said he's right there in the mix to play first base.Branyan didn't hurt his cause at all on Tuesday with a three-run homer off Greg Smith in the fourth inning as Arizona lost to the Rockies, 7-4, at Salt River Fields. Branyan, a journeyman player who had a short 88-game stop with the Padres in 2006-07 when Towers was their GM, said there was nothing promised just because the pair has been reunited. "There are no guarantees here," said Branyan, one of six players with Padres ties who Towers has brought into the organization since he was hired this past September.
"I came here to compete and try to win a job. If it happens, it happens. It doesn't change the way I go about my business. Obviously it's going to be a decision that's made for me."Branyan, 35, hit 25 homers and drove in 57 runs last year for the Indians and Mariners, and would fit nicely into the D-backs lineup, which is short on power this year after the losses of Mark Reynolds (traded to Orioles) and Adam LaRoche (signed with Nationals). "We're going to evaluate everybody as we go through the spring and see how they all finish out," Gibson said about Branyan. "He has a history for sure. We'll have conversations on whether he's the guy who will fit into that spot at first base or not."
Barry M. Bloom is national reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, Boomskie on Baseball. Follow @boomskie on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.