SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- D-backs prospect Tyler Skaggs followed his best spring outing with a dud Saturday night, when Royals hitters battered him for four runs in three innings.
The 20-year-old lefty was pounded for seven hits in his three frames, and took his first loss of the spring.
"Coming out of the bullpen is hard for him because he's overthrowing," manager Kirk Gibson said. "They put some good swings on him. It's just important in the Major Leagues that you locate to be successful."
Skaggs was named the organization's 2011 Minor League pitcher of the year, and his presence at big league camp this late in the spring is a testament to his abilities.
His last time out, Skaggs allowed just a run on two hits in three innings, and looked smooth in striking out five. On Saturday, he labored.
But for a youngster like Skaggs to struggle and work through it, Gibson noted, "He probably learned some good lessons out there tonight."
With rust shaken off, Cahill feels ready
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Trevor Cahill usually gives himself two starts each spring to shake off the rust. When those are over, that's when he begins to evaluate his performance.
So when Cahill still looked shaky five batters into his fourth start of the spring on Saturday night, naturally, the 24-year-old righty began to worry.
The peace of mind came starting with batter No. 6.
The first five batters Cahill faced combined to produce two runs on three hits and a walk, but none of the next 10 reached base. When Cahill's night ended, he had worked 4 2/3 innings and he felt content with his command for the first time this spring.
"As it gets closer toward the season, you start to worry a little bit," Cahill said of his struggles. "In the first, I was starting to worry a little bit, but I just settled down, relaxed and felt a lot more comfortable."
The D-backs acquired Cahill in a trade with Oakland during the offseason. He posted a 4.16 ERA with the A's last season.
As for his outing on Saturday, Cahill said the numbers (two runs, five hits, six strikeouts) didn't matter. He was more concerned with being able to locate all four of his pitches.
"The biggest thing is throwing four pitches for strikes in any count," Cahill said. "If I can do that, even if they're hitting me, I still feel confident going into the season."
Before the game, D-backs manager Kirk Gibson said he was still waiting to see the bite on Cahill's sinker. He saw it Saturday, as Cahill induced seven groundball outs to one flyball out.
Cahill said sometimes a bit of fatigue helps him with the pitch, because it prevents him from overthrowing it. He noted that might have been the difference between the early stages of his outing and the rest of it.
Gibson allowed Cahill to stay in the game longer than the club had originally planned because he was cruising. "You certainly could see what he's capable of," Gibson said, noting Cahill's dominance from the second inning on.
Zagurski working hard to make roster
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Mike Zagurski knows he's in a tricky spot as the third lefty reliever on the D-backs spring roster.
The club will have a decision to make in the next couple of weeks, as Zagurski is out of options -- meaning he can't be sent to Triple-A without first clearing waivers. Barring any injuries or unforeseen setbacks to Joe Paterson or Craig Breslow, Zagurski would be the team's third lefty -- a luxury the D-backs might not have room for in their pen.
But Zagurski, who has made the team's decision a tough one with his very solid spring, isn't too concerned with what might happen to him. As it has always been, his focus is solely on his next outing.
"It's been a good spring so far, I'm going to pitch when I'm asked to pitch, and I'll let them handle the business side of it, and let them worry about the rest," he said. "I can only control what I do."
In 6 1/3 innings this spring, Zagurski has allowed just one run and three hits, while striking out seven. On Saturday, he entered the game with a runner on base and Kansas City's powerful lefty, Eric Hosmer, at the plate. He got Hosmer to fly harmlessly to center.
D-backs general manager Kevin Towers is planning to wait as long as possible to make a decision on Zagurski, meaning Zagurski will likely be around through the end of camp. Towers' thought process is that by waiting, the 29-year-old lefty will be an option should something change or someone get hurt.
He didn't rule out the possibility of Zagurski making the roster, either.
"You never know, maybe we decide to keep three left-handers," Towers said. "We haven't set our roster right yet, so my gut is he's going to be with us right up until the end, until we have to make a decision."
That's just fine with Zagurski, who has added a cutter to his repertoire this spring after working on it extensively while pitching winter ball in the Dominican Republic during the offseason.
"It kind of just came into its own recently," Zagurski said of the pitch, which he first experimented with last August. "It's still a work in progress, but I like how far it's come."
The D-backs acquired Zagurski last September from the Phillies to add to their in-house left-handed options. Then, in the trade that brought Trevor Cahill to Arizona, the D-backs also received Breslow.
Like Towers, D-backs manager Kirk Gibson didn't rule out keeping Zagurski, but Gibson isn't one for speculation about roster spots.
"Nothing is very concrete now," he said. "A lot can happen, a lot can change in a short period of time."
Jason Kubel will make his return to the D-backs lineup on Sunday against the Padres, assuming all went well in his Saturday workout, Gibson said. The club has been extra cautious with Kubel, holding him out four days with minor tightness in his right quad.
David Hernandez will throw 30 pitches in a Minor League game on Sunday, as D-backs manager Kirk Gibson wants to stretch out the righty reliever.
Gibson said top pitchers Ian Kennedy and Daniel Hudson "have done everything in their power to prepare" for a lot of work in 2012. When asked how many innings Gibson would like that to be, he responded with 250, noting, "If we're in the World Series, they might have to." Both threw 222 last season, eclipsing the 200 mark for the first time in their careers.