LAD@ARI: Hernandez gets Ethier to escape jam

PHOENIX -- It is early, so the small sample size warning applies, but D-backs' setup man David Hernandez has used his curveball more this year than at any other time in his career.

In six appearances heading into Saturday's game, Hernandez has thrown his curve 42 percent of the time, an increase of eight percent over last year. He threw the curve only 23 percent of the time in 2011.

"I just feel like right now I'm able to throw my curveball for strikes more than I was able to in the past," Hernandez said. "I think that makes it easier to throw it. It's not an easy pitch to hit and anytime you can get somebody off your fastball, it's usually a good thing too."

In a game last Friday against the Brewers' Rickie Weeks, Hernandez threw him a first-pitch fastball for a ball before throwing five straight curves to get him to strike out swinging.

"Some guys see my fastball really well and I'm going to throw something else up there and see if they can hit that one," Hernandez said. "I never want to stick to a pattern. There's plenty of scouting reports out there and tendencies and this early in the season, you want to try and vary your pitches so they don't get a good enough report later in the season."

Hernandez has also increased the use of his changeup throwing it six percent of the time, nearly double what he did in 2012.

D-backs place Kubel on DL, activate Ross

PIT@ARI: Kubel crushes a towering two-run homer

PHOENIX -- The D-backs placed outfielder Jason Kubel on the 15-day disabled list with a strained left quadriceps muscle and activated Cody Ross to take his place.

Ross, who was signed as a free agent in the offseason, injured his left calf early in the spring and did not play in a big league game after March 3.

Ross appeared in six games for Class A Visalia and one game for Triple-A Reno during an injury rehab stint.

"It's felt good," Ross said. "I think we took the right amount of time, the right sort of plan, so hopefully it will pay off."

Initially, the team was planning on activating Ross in time for its upcoming road trip which begins Tuesday in New York, but Kubel's quad took a turn for the worse Friday night while running to second base in the eighth inning.

Kubel said he initially tweaked the leg last Friday when he rounded third and scored on a passed ball against the Brewers. Kubel had an MRI taken Saturday and when the results showed a strain, the team decided to place him on the DL an hour before game time.

The Kubel injury means a reprieve for young outfielders A.J. Pollock and Alfredo Marte, one of whom figured to be sent down to make room for Ross.

"I think it's a shame for the team," Gibson said of losing Kubel. "We're going to the American League so it would be important to have him, but whatever it is, we'll deal with it. The other guys that have filled in have been great, they're qualified."

Hill remaining cautious with bone bruise on hand

ARI@MIL: Hill's two-run homer pads D-backs' lead

PHOENIX -- When he first was diagnosed with a bone bruise after being hit by a James McDonald pitch last Tuesday, D-backs second baseman Aaron Hill was warned by the team's training staff.

"They told me right away that bone bruises are kind of a pain in the butt because they tend to linger around," Hill said.

That has certainly been the case with Hill, who has not played since, a span of three games and four days.

"They're going off if I can swing a bat," Hill said as to what the deciding factor has been. "I don't want to say I can't, it's just not where myself or they would like it to be for me to be playing every day. I told him I'll make it through, I'll give you what I got, but it's your call."

Hill was initially in Friday's lineup before being scratched after batting practice.

"It felt fine yesterday until I was swinging," he said.

Manager Kirk Gibson said he still thinks that Hill will be able to avoid having to go on the disabled list.