Duke progressing, in line to return vs. Houston
D-backs starter may need only one more rehab appearance
PHOENIX -- Starting pitcher Zach Duke is one step closer to returning to the D-backs' rotation.
"I feel good," said Duke, who threw five innings, allowing one run on five hits for Class A Visalia on Wednesday. "I'm progressing along, and last night I felt pretty good."
The 28-year-old struck out four and walked none.
D-backs manager Kirk Gibson said Duke is scheduled to start for Triple-A Reno on Monday at Round Rock, where he will throw 90 pitches.
"If everything goes fine," Gibson said, "He'll start next Saturday [at Houston]."
Duke, who went 45-70 with a 4.54 ERA in six seasons with the Pirates, broke his pitching hand in Spring Training after getting struck by a comebacker. He admitted the injury was a frustrating way to start his tenure with a new team.
"For sure," he said. "It's not like I blew out physically, I got hit by a line drive. That's the most frustrating part of watching these guys go out there every day, not being able to contribute or help out.
"If everything goes according to plan, I should be ready to come on back up and give this team six and seven strong."
D-backs tab Owings for Saturday start
PHOENIX -- D-backs manager Kirk Gibson announced on Thursday night that right-hander Micah Owings will start Saturday against the Twins.
Owings has a 3-1 record and a 4.85 ERA in seven starts at Triple-A Reno. He has recorded 27 strikeouts and nine walks in 39 innings.
In two seasons with Arizona, Owings started 45 games and went 14-17 with a 5.12 ERA. He was traded to the Reds in September 2008 to complete a deal for first baseman Adam Dunn and re-signed with the D-backs in January.
Owings can swing the lumber as well -- he owns a career .293 batting average with nine home runs in 184 at-bats.
Walk-off overshadows Saunders' good start
PHOENIX -- Lost in the finish of Wednesday's 5-4 come-from-behind, walk-off win over the Braves was six strong innings from D-backs starting pitcher Joe Saunders.
"I thought I pitched OK," the left-hander said. "I got out of some jams and felt like I threw strikes, was aggressive in the strike zone, and I though the real key for me was throwing ground balls and letting my defense work for me."
Saunders allowed one run on seven hits and induced nine ground-ball outs.
But perhaps the biggest two outs of his night came in the sixth inning from the arm of left fielder Gerardo Parra, who threw a pair of runners out trying to advance to third base.
"They were huge," Saunders said. "He threw absolute strikes, and it wasn't only huge for the team, but it was huge for me, to get out of there with only one run of damage."
Said D-backs manager Kirk Gibson: "Joe was great."
Still, Saunders was unable to pick up his first victory of the season in the no-decision, something the seven-year veteran said he doesn't think about much.
"You can't," Saunders said. "You just have to go out there and do your thing. It's hard to control wins and losses, you just have to go out there with whatever you have that day to keep your team in the ballgame, and that's what I've tried to do."
Anthony Fenech is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.