02/17/2013 7:37 PM ET
Hitters receive first spring look at live pitching
By Steve Gilbert / MLB.com
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Bats get broken and hitters get a bit grumpy. All par for the course on the first day of pitchers facing hitters in live batting practice.
Most, but not all, of the D-backs pitchers threw from behind protective screens and they signaled to batters what pitches were coming.
Despite knowing what's coming, the hitters tend to be behind the pitchers at this stage of camp because while the pitchers have been throwing, the hitters have not seen live pitching at that speed since the end of last season.
"First day of live pitching, just trying to get through the mechanics of live pitching and trying to keep everyone healthy," D-backs manager Kirk Gibson said.
Half of the pitchers faced hitters Sunday with the other half scheduled to do so Monday. The team will then have a light day Tuesday before going through live pitching Wednesday and Thursday.
On Friday, the final day before the spring opener against the Rockies on Saturday, the D-backs will play a situational game different than a traditional intersquad game to help them work on specific situations.
Montero already likes what he's seeing from Bell
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- It was just an eight-minute session throwing to hitters, a first this spring, but D-backs catcher Miguel Montero was impressed with what he saw from reliever Heath Bell on Sunday.
"He looked good, he located pretty good," Montero said. "For the first day, he looked like he was ready for game time. His location, fastball got some good explosion coming out of the hand and he located pretty good, man. He was game ready pretty much."
"It was good, ironed a couple of kinks out, a couple of things I have to work on, but overall it was good," Bell said of the session. "I think every time you face hitters for the first time, you get a little geared up especially [because] you don't want to hit your own players, so you're just a little tentative going inside. Overall I think I made some pretty good pitches."
Bell is looking to rebound from a nightmarish 2012 season with the Marlins when he posted a 5.09 ERA and feuded with manager Ozzie Guillen. He landed in Arizona as part of a three-team deal involving the Marlins, D-backs and A's last October.
"I started earlier training this year, but that's because I [stunk] last year and I really wanted to be ready to play this year," Bell said.
Bell, who is slated to pitch for Team USA in the World Baseball Classic this month, seems to be enjoying his move to the desert.
"I had some things, maybe some demons or issues last year," He said. "So be it. This is a new year, a new team, it's a new manager, new pitching coaches, new teammates. Everything is brand new, even the facility is brand new. I feel like so much at home and I don't really know everybody. These guys are unbelievably great about having fun, being serious, getting out of your comfort zone."
In first session vs. hitters, Skaggs impresses Gibson
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Tyler Skaggs came into camp determined to win the No. 5 spot in Arizona's rotation, and the extra work the left-hander put in this winter appears to have paid off.
Skaggs had a session facing hitters for the first time in batting practice Sunday.
"I thought Skaggs was pumped up a little bit today," D-backs manager Kirk Gibson said. "Early on he seemed to be overthrowing a little bit, but I thought he settled down and started throwing the way he's been throwing in the bullpen."
There's still plenty of work to be done, but Skaggs is happy with where he's at.
"I started throwing a lot earlier this year, so I feel like my arm is in better shape than it was last year," he said. "I'm trying to fix that because I know I'm a little bit of a slow starter, but once I get things clicking, life is good. I feel like the curveball is coming along well this year and that's usually the last thing to come, so that's good. I've got good feel with it.
"Fastball command is the only thing I'm really worrying about right now, though, still kind of wild all over the place. That's also coming with just keep throwing every day and your arm is getting used to it and stuff."