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04/29/09 3:50 PM ET

Gutierrez playing valuable role in 'pen

D-backs getting solid innings from converted righty starter

PHOENIX -- Juan Gutierrez has certainly made an impression.

Finally healthy, after an elbow injury limited him last year, Gutierrez was a late-inning factor in the D-backs' bullpen prior to the return of Tom Gordon.

Though he may be pushed back a little earlier in games with Gordon around, Gutierrez figures to still get some important outs for Arizona this year.

"He's been big for us," D-backs manager Bob Melvin said. "He is also a guy that can give you multiple innings."

A starter throughout his professional career, Gutierrez's transition to the bullpen has been seamless.

"I made the adjustment in my mind in Spring Training," Gutierrez said. "They told me that I would be in the bullpen, so that is what I concentrated on. It's important to be healthy and come to the ballpark every day ready, because you may pitch."

In nine games this year, Gutierrez has pitched 10 2/3 innings and has fanned 15 while walking four over that span. His ERA of 3.38 is good, but if not for an April 11 game against the Dodgers, it would be much better. It was in that game that Gutierrez allowed three of his four runs on the season.

Steve Gilbert is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.