D-backs Spring Training Report: Owings showing value early

Feb 15, 2011, 11:17 PM | Updated: Feb 16, 2011, 2:54 am

Scottsdale – The Diamondbacks had their second spring workout on Tuesday and a familiar face is already starting to make an impression that could lead to a roster spot.

Micah Owings returned to the Diamondbacks in the offseason and could find himself being used in a variety of positions this season for the team.

Owings is competing for a spot in the bullpen, but is also spending time at first base to see if the D-backs can get his bat in the line-up on a consistent basis.

The organization, although intrigued at the prospect of seeing Owings get time at first base, wants him to focus most of his energy on being a productive pitcher.

“First and foremost I want him to have value as a pitcher. The other is a bonus,” said manager Kirk Gibson.

General manager Kevin Towers sees Owings, given his experience as a starter, having great value out of the bullpen.

“He can give us some length. It’d be nice to have somebody out of the back of our bullpen if something happened to a starter prior to a game and we needed a spot starter, that would be something Micah could do,” said Towers.

However, Towers couldn’t help but be impressed by the hitting display Owings put on Tuesday.

“He had some people scattering there beyond the left field fence. The ball really has a different sound coming off his bat,” said Towers.

The Diamondbacks GM is also starting to believe Owings can handle having to play in the field at first base.

“He’s a pretty impressive athlete. He looked pretty comfortable over there at first,” said Towers.

Starting Rotation

Manager Kirk Gibson isn’t getting caught up in who will be the Opening Day starter.

“I don’t know if starting Opening Day is something to compete for. I’m not sure what it does to be the first guy. We’re going to set our rotation up the best way that it’s going to be the best for our team,” said Gibson.

The manager did set a tentative mid-March timetable for when the rotation will begin to take shape.

“When we get to the 14th, we may adjust our rotation around to start to get it set up. Until that point, I’m not worried about it. We’re just going to continue to keep these guys progressing along towards being ready for Opening Day,” said Gibson.

Zavada taking physical, not retiring

D-backs reliever Clay Zavada was getting his physical today and should be at the facility tomorrow.

Zavada was believed to be contemplating retirement after experiencing difficulties from surgery last season.

General manager Kevin Towers believes Zavada was just frustrated with the grind of working his way back.

“The rehab process is often difficult for guys. The last week or so throwing the ball he didn’t feel right and probably wasn’t real happy where he was at and contemplated whether he should continue to go through the grind,” said Towers.

The D-backs’ GM believes Zavada can still make an impact for the team this season.

“He probably had a 24-48 hour period where he had some doubts, but it sounds like he’s focused on coming here and continuing the rehab process and getting back to hopefully pitching in the big leagues,” said Towers.

D-backs, Kelly Johnson avoid arbitration

The Arizona
Diamondbacks and second baseman Kelly Johnson have agreed to a $5.85 million, one-year contract.

General manager Kevin Towers is grateful the team was able to avoid arbitration with its second baseman.

“There’s really no winners in going to a hearing or an arbitration process. Sometimes it hurts relationships. It was good for both sides and now we start focusing on getting ready for the season,” said Towers.

A multi-year deal was never discussed during the negotiations.

Johnson hit .284 last season with 26 homers, 71 RBIs and 36

Last month, Johnson had asked for $6.5 million originally while the team countered with $4.7 million.

Johnson made $2.35 million last season.

Arizona Sports’ Kyndra de St. Aubin contributed to this report.

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