PHOENIX -- At the end of Spring Training, Bryan Shaw's role in the D-backs' bullpen was undefined.But, armed with an improved pitch repertoire and with Takashi Saito still nursing a calf injury, Shaw has stepped into the third-reliever role through nine games in 2012. "He has done a great job," manager Kirk Gibson said. "He's developing as a pitcher, and he's got great stuff." Shaw leads the club with six appearances entering Monday's game against the Pirates and has yet to allow an earned run or a walk. "He's got a fearless attitude," Gibson said. "If he gets two strikes, he's coming after you, he's not going to nibble around and that's what we like." With all nine of the D-backs' games this season separated by three runs or less, Gibson has been forced to rest J.J. Putz and call on the 24-year-old to close out games for the team twice. On both occasions Shaw secured the win while picking up the first two saves of his career. The growth from last year, in the eyes of his manager, has been mostly in his cutter and curveball. Shaw struck out eight batters in August, his best statistical month in 2011. So far this April, he's struck out eight. "All I see are the results," Gibson said. "He's got a 92-94-mph cutter with good location. In Spring Training, I was encouraging him to throw that two-seamer. But you don't have to throw that if you have the other two pitches that good."
Arizona Cardinals' Fitzgerald visits D-backs
PHOENIX -- Arizona Cardinals All-Pro wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald makes a living tracking down footballs on Sundays with some of the best hand-eye coordination in the NFL.But while visiting the D-backs' pregame workouts on Monday, Fitzgerald declined to take swings in the batting cage for fear of embarrassing himself. "The skills do not translate; I'll be the first to tell you that," Fitzgerald said. "Every man has to know his limitation, and batting is definitely a limitation." Fitzgerald came to Chase Field to promote his second annual Larry Fitzgerald Celebrity Softball Game at Salt River Fields on Saturday. He brought along his teammate, Pro-Bowl corner back Patrick Peterson, who did take batting practice. D-backs second baseman John McDonald tried to find Peterson batting gloves, but even the biggest available barely fit on his massive hands. Despite shying away from live action, D-backs shortstop Stephen Drew convinced Fitzgerald to go out in the field and take grounders. The receiver didn't have a problem fielding most of the balls off the bat of Matt Williams, but most of his throws to first base took a couple hops before arriving. "He's a great athlete," Drew said. "But it's hard, it'd be like him trying to teach me football. When you haven't done it, it's so unnatural. The biggest thing I told him was to watch out and not get hit by line drives. Just go get the ball like you're a little kid." Monday marked the second year in a row Fitzgerald has come out to support the D-backs. He said although he hasn't played the sport since high school, he marvels at the way the players grind through a 162-game season. "These guys are the best in the world at what they do," Fitzgerald said. "We have a lot of admiration for what they do. And for how long they play in their schedule, it's impressive and it's an honor for me to be here."
Drew impresses in pregame workout
PHOENIX -- A pair of injured D-backs worked out Monday, but it's still unclear when either will return from the disabled list.Shortstop Stephen Drew, recovering from July's broken ankle, took grounders at Chase Field and participated in batting practice. Reliever Takashi Saito, sidelined since start the season because of a nagging calf, threw in a short session. "It's going good," Drew said. "I'm trying not to press too much, but I'm making progress." While the D-backs were on the road in San Diego and Colorado last week, Drew played in extended spring training games at Salt River Fields. He took Sunday off and returned to rehabbing on Monday. There's still no timetable for Drew's return, but he's starting to look like his old self, turning heads from the dugout. "He looked phenomenal. You go out there, watch him and go, 'Wow, he's close to playing,'" manager Kirk Gibson said. "The problem is when he sits down. ... He can't go out there, do it, then sit down for a 20-25-minute inning and do it again. He's not as far along as you'd hope he'd be, but he's doing quite well." Saito's progress is more tangible. He could join the team sometime this homestand. "He's healthy," Gibson said. "I think he threw 13 pitches today. I'm not worried about his arm, I'm worried about him covering bases. You need to get them up to speed, it's a little different here than where he's been."
Tyler Emerick is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.