Putz shut down after back stiffens in warmups
D-backs closer expect to be back in action by Opening Day
PEORIA, Ariz. -- D-backs closer J.J. Putz felt stiffness in his back while warming up to go into Friday's game with the Mariners and was shut down.
Putz, who was signed to a two-year contract as a free agent during the Winter Meetings, will be re-evaluated on Saturday.
"I just threw a couple of pitches in the bullpen and my back was stiff," Putz said. "It's just tight. It didn't feel right."
2010 Spring Training - Arizona Diamondbacks
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When he felt the stiffness, Putz called down to the dugout and told D-backs manager Kirk Gibson he was unable to pitch.
"You're always concerned," Gibson said. "We don't know anything about it. It may go away, it may just be a spasm. He's never had anything like that before. You certainly don't want your closer to go down."
Putz said he has never had back issues before and he was hopeful that it was nothing serious. He experienced some relief after the team's medical staff worked on him for a while in the trainer's room during the game.
"I have no idea what to expect," Putz said. "All I did was feel stiff. Instead of trying to pitch through it and go out there when you're not 100 percent, it's better just to give a call down and see what happens."
Following a schedule similar to the one he used while closing for the Mariners, Putz did not make his Cactus League debut until March 7. He then threw in a simulated game before appearing in his only other Cactus League contest on March 16, when he allowed four runs on two hits while walking three in just one-third of an inning.
As long as his back does not keep him out of action for a long period of time, Putz said it would not jeopardize his availability for Opening Day.
"There's plenty of time left," he said. "We've got two weeks left, I think -- there's plenty of time."
With flu behind him, Saunders set for return
PEORIA, Ariz. -- Joe Saunders makes his return to the pitching mound on Saturday when the D-backs play host to the Reds. The left-hander has not appeared in a game since March 6, when he made his third start of the spring.
Saunders was scheduled to start March 11 against the Angels, but he was scratched due to the flu. Since then, he has thrown just one bullpen session.
"That sickness has kicked his butt," said D-backs manager Kirk Gibson.
The flew also cost Saunders a chance to be the Opening Day starter, as Gibson decided to go with Ian Kennedy instead. Saunders will be in the rotation, but it has not yet been determined what spot he will occupy.
Provided he doesn't have any further setbacks, Saunders should still have time to get ready for the start of the regular season -- though he may have to be on a pitch count in his first start.
"It will be hard to get him probably to 100 pitches by the start of the season," Gibson said. "Maybe one time, I don't know."
D-backs expect Drew back this weekend
PEORIA, Ariz. -- Stephen Drew was not in the lineup for Friday's 8-5 win over the Mariners, but the D-backs expect to have their shortstop back Saturday or Sunday.
Drew left Wednesday's game with midsection tightness, and at the time, he said he hoped to be back in the lineup against Seattle.
D-backs manager Kirk Gibson, however, didn't want to push things.
"Hopefully he might play [Saturday]," Gibson said. "Just being precautionary. He seemed to be moving around OK. If he's OK [on Saturday], maybe I'll play him a little bit and see how he does."
Gibson was asked if Drew was going to undergo any tests.
"I don't think we need to go that far at this point," he said.