SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Kevin Towers stopped short of saying Russell Branyan would make the Opening Day roster, but the D-backs GM came awfully close.

The team has to decide by March 25 whether Branyan is going to make the Opening Day roster due to an opt-out clause in the Minor League contract he signed just after camp opened.

"He's been pretty good," Towers said when asked if he was leaning toward keeping Branyan. "You could probably answer that question. I don't want to say he's on the club right now, but he's had a good spring. He hasn't done anything to hurt himself in making this club."

While Branyan has outslugged fellow competitors Brandon Allen and Juan Miranda, his defense has not been as good, and defense is something both Towers and manager Kirk Gibson have stressed will be an important factor.

"If he's performing, we're going to find a way to get his bat in the lineup," Towers said. "If he continues to swing the bat, the defense has to improve. [We'll] probably see if he can get a little more time at first base to work on that.

"We're going to try and put our best lineup out there. Our defense is very important to us, too. I think Russell understands that, not just how you swing the bat, we're going to have to catch the ball, too. He's performed very well. He needs to work on his defense; I think he knows that. He's certainly been one of our better offensive players this spring."

Bullpen coach to take over for injured Williams

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- With third-base coach Matt Williams expected to miss Opening Day with a broken right foot, D-backs manager Kirk Gibson said that bullpen coach Glenn Sherlock would assume Williams' duties for now.

Major League Baseball rules allow just six coaches to be in the dugout or bullpen during a game. Because this is Williams' first year as a third-base coach, Gibson wants him to be on the bench with him during the games he is unable to coach third.

The D-backs asked MLB if they could add a seventh coach until Williams is healed, but GM Kevin Towers said that request was denied.

That means that bullpen catcher Jeff Motuzas will likely handle the bullpen coaching duties while Sherlock coaches third.

"Guys like Tooz will have to pick up the slack for Sherls down there until Matty gets back," Towers said.

Williams suffered the broken foot last week when he was struck by a ball off the bat of his college-aged son, Jacob, while throwing him soft toss.