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04/02/11 9:02 PM ET

Upton sets early standard for aggressive play

DENVER -- When the ball left Melvin Mora's bat, Justin Upton had a decision to make.

Running on contact from third base, the D-backs' right fielder saw the ball being hit to Troy Tulowitzki at short, and he knew that meant there was going to be a play at the plate.

It was right then he decided he was going to run Rockies catcher Chris Iannetta over if the play was close.

"I told myself beforehand I wasn't going to pull up on that play and let him tag me," Upton said. "He was going to have to earn it. I know that since it was hit to Tulo the ball was going to get to the plate pretty quick."

Upton smashed into Iannetta, who hung onto the ball for the out. Later Ianetta would call it a "clean" play, and Tulowitzki did likewise.

"That was aggressive baserunning on their part, a ground ball to me, to still go," Tulowitzki said. "He was coming in full speed. I know he hit Chris the way he did, but Chris is tough back there. It was good baseball all the way around."

Even though Upton was out, the play brought a smile to Arizona manager Kirk Gibson's face.

"Anybody question's Justin Upton and what he's here for, the way he went into that catcher [Friday], I think it's pretty obvious," Gibson said. "That kid played his heart out."

It's the kind of hard-nosed baseball the D-backs are determined to play this year.

"We have to go get after people," Upton said. "We're the type of team that has to grind for every win that we get. Plays like that are going to define a team, so to get one on Opening Day was nice."

Roberts gets the start at third base

DENVER -- Ryan Roberts was rewarded for an outstanding Spring Training with a spot in the starting lineup Saturday against the Rockies.

D-backs manager Kirk Gibson put Roberts in the fifth spot of the lineup and at third base in place of Melvin Mora, who started Friday's opener.

"Ryno's played great for us all spring," Gibson said. "He's aggressive, very athletic, so I thought that'd be the way to go."

Roberts hit .509 with a .603 on-base percentage during Spring Training to earn a spot on the bench.

"It's good enough just to be here Opening Day," Roberts said. "To get a start this early is more than I could ask for, so it feels great and I'm ready, I can tell you that."

Gibson shuffles lineup for second game

DENVER -- Like the weather in Chicago, if you don't like Kirk Gibson's lineup, just wait, it will change.

With left-hander Jorge De La Rosa on the mound for the Rockies, the D-backs' skipper shuffled his lineup Saturday, benching third baseman Melvin Mora and first baseman Juan Miranda. Ryan Roberts got the nod at third while Xavier Nady started at first.

Roberts was being rewarded for a good spring, while the other options at first -- Miranda and Russell Branyan -- both hit left-handed.

Gibson is trying to get as many players as possible involved during the season's first weekend.

"There's something about standing up at the plate for your first time [of the season]," Gibson said. "It's different, so I want to get those guys their first at-bats and try to get everybody involved quickly."

Despite being a left-handed hitter, Gerardo Parra once again got the start in left after making several nice plays out there in Friday's opener.

"My theory is to kind of keep my defense as good as I can at as many positions as I can," Gibson said. "I think we'll score runs."

Steve Gilbert is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Inside the D-backs, and follow him on Twitter @dbackswriter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.