SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- The D-backs plan on taking things slow with reliever Takashi Saito this spring.The 42-year-old will be asked to do less when it comes to certain drills, with the goal being to simply make sure his arm strength is built up and his mechanics are in order come Opening Day. Last season, Saito was limited to 30 games with the Brewers, and D-backs manager Kirk Gibson said he spoke with his counterpart in Milwaukee, Ron Roenicke, who told him that the Brewers wished they had taken it a little easier on Saito during the spring. It's easy to see why the D-backs want to make sure the right-hander is available for as many games as possible. In six big league seasons, Saito has a 2.18 ERA. As to the risk in signing Saito to a one-year $1.75 million free agent contract this winter, Towers said that he's heard for four or five years that, with one pitch, Saito's "arm could go." "I will say we didn't do a physical," Towers said. "We knew he probably would have failed his physical based on everything that we've heard over the last four or five years. You just have to watch how you use him and utilize him in games. But he's in great shape, and he's been about as consistent a reliever in the game over the last five years pitching in high pressure situations. ... We thought his skill set and what he could bring to the club far outweighed the risk." So far, Saito appears to be fitting in nicely in the clubhouse. "I just told him to enjoy his teammates," Gibson said. "He's got a lot of personality, I can tell. One of the things I told him was that I knew he had a lot of wisdom. I told him I was a connoisseur for wisdom so any time he felt like sitting down and giving it to me, I'd be open-minded to that. We're very happy to have him."
Drew takes grounders for first time post-surgery
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- As if Stephen Drew didn't have enough to deal with, the D-backs shortstop is battling a cold that has left him with a squeaky and raspy voice.Drew put his voice to the test Monday afternoon, when he met with the media after fielding ground balls for the first time since sustaining an injury that led to season-ending right-ankle surgery in July. Third-base coach Matt Williams, who works with the team's infielders, hit Drew some easy grounders while standing on the pitching mound. "Weird and good at the same time," Drew said about how he felt. "Overall, I was pretty pleased with the way it went. Today was a good day; it really was." The D-backs plan to take things slowly with Drew and whether he takes grounders again Tuesday will depend on how he feels on Tuesday morning. "We'll see how tomorrow goes," he said. "We have to see when I come in. That's going to be the key, how much can I do before I can't do anything and have to take two days off." Drew has been hitting for some time now and has simulated running the bases on turf at the workout facility he utilized this offseason. "He moved a lot better than I thought he would," D-backs manager Kirk Gibson said after watching Drew take the grounders. "We'll take him slow. He's still got a long way to go for sure."
Kennedy makes few changes to offseason prep
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- With the exception of a few adjustments here and there, D-backs right-hander Ian Kennedy went with the same offseason workout routine he used last year.After all, why mess with success? Kennedy went 21-4 with a 2.88 ERA in 33 starts last year after being a surprise pick to start Opening Day. Some change in the routine was inevitable, given how dedicated the D-backs medical staff is on being at the forefront of the fitness curve. "We tweaked some things," Kennedy said. "Just trying to stay on top of the new stuff that we can do and trying to get better." His performance last year will certainly prevent him from sneaking up on opponents and the expectations are high, though manager Kirk Gibson did his best to downplay them. "What we're after this year is to win enough games to get to the playoffs and become world champions," Gibson said. "It's unfair to say Ian has to win 21 games. If he wins 16 and [Daniel] Hudson wins 20, who cares? I think Ian expects to go out and give us a chance to win every game, which I expect he will do. I feel confident in that. "I just don't think to sit here and say he should win another 20 games is fair to him, and honestly it's not the type of thinking that I would encourage from our team. I don't think that's good conversation for what we're trying to accomplish. At this point, we try to encourage them not to worry about that. Just go out and be the best you can be and see if we're good enough as a team."
Steve Gilbert is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Inside the D-backs, and follow him on Twitter @SteveGilbertMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.