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02/13/2013 9:30 PM ET

Nieves and Barajas battling for backup role

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- With Miguel Montero expected to miss time this spring to play for Venezuela in the World Baseball Classic, the D-backs will have plenty of opportunities to get a look at their backup catchers.

The battle to be Montero's backup is led by Wil Nieves and Rod Barajas.

"It's wide open," manager Kirk Gibson said.

Nieves was Montero's backup the latter part of last season after Henry Blanco went down with an injury.

Barajas, who was initially signed by the D-backs in 1996, played for Arizona from 1999 through 2003 and was signed as a free agent last weekend.

The team also has four non-roster catchers in camp in Ed Easley, Tuffy Gosewisch, Rosmel Perez and Mark Reed.

Slimmed down Cahill shows off speed

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- D-backs right-hander Trevor Cahill shed close to 15 pounds during the offseason in the hopes of being able to maintain his stamina during the season.

Wednesday, the distance running he did during the offseason paid off as he won a five-lap race run by the pitchers.

"I don't think he would have done that last year and he had a lot left at the end too," D-backs manager Kirk Gibson said. "He's a totally different guy. His body is a bit different. I think he's just worked a lot on his athleticism, he's leaned out, he's changed his diet."

Cahill was tested for food allergies during the offseason and the results convinced him to avoid gluten and dairy products. He also did a little more long-distance running than he had in the past.

"It was tough because I used to be real skinny and had to eat to try and gain weight and so I got used to that," Cahill said. "I was like 6-foot-4, 180 pounds when I was in high school and weak. I was always trying to eat and gain weight and then all of a sudden my metabolism slowed down. Eating Taco Bell five times a week is not good when your metabolism slows down."

Short hops

• The D-backs on Wednesday got their first up close look at Zeke Spruill, who was acquired from the Braves in the Justin Upton trade.

Spruill threw an eight-minute bullpen session with his pitching group.

"It's the first time we got to see Zeke today and he seemed to have kind of a quick arm," Gibson said. "We hadn't seen him in person so that was kind of neat to watch."

• Josh Collmenter reported to camp sporting a wooly beard that is somewhat like the one former Giants closer Brian Wilson has.

"Pretty impressive I think," Gibson said. "That's pretty thick, pretty bushy and that's got some character to it."

Collmenter said he started growing the beard as part of no-shave November and then decided to continue.

"I don't know if I'll keep it in season, but probably at least through part of Spring Training," Collmenter said.

If he did keep it during the season, he was asked if it could win him some fans in San Francisco.

"It could, since they don't have a beard there anymore," he said with a smile. "They just have panda hats and giraffe hats."

Steve Gilbert is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @SteveGilbertMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.