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08/11/11 2:00 AM ET

D-backs rest Putz after dive leaves him stiff

PHOENIX -- D-backs manager Kirk Gibson stayed away from using J.J. Putz in a save situation Wednesday, one day after the closer recorded the final out of the game by diving to stop a ground ball.

Setup man David Hernandez retired the side in order in the ninth in Arizona's 6-3 win over the Astros.

"J.J.'s been on the DL for us and [Tuesday] night he exerted a lot and he was just a little ... we don't want to push him right now, so we went with David," Gibson said.

Putz dived for Jose Altuve's dribbler and landed hard on his left side Tuesday.

"I was a little stiff today," he said. "I should be ready to go [Thursday]."

Gibson doing best to keep D-backs fresh

PHOENIX -- The dog days of summer are upon the D-backs, and manager Kirk Gibson is doing his best to make sure his team doesn't fall victim to them.

"We had discussions today and that was one of the topics," he said. "How hard do you push? I think physically we're going to try to trim back our batting practice, extra work and stuff like that."

The team opened a 10-game homestand sluggishly with three losses in four days before outslugging the Astros on Tuesday night. After a weekend series against the Mets, the D-backs head east for 10 games against the Phillies, Braves and Nationals.

"We know we're going to be on this road trip," Gibson said. "We're at home, and maybe we can say, 'Hey, guys, spend some more time at home and relax.'

"When we go on the road, we know it's going to be hot and we know it's going to be a terrible environment in the places we're going to go."

Second baseman Kelly Johnson thinks that keeping his body fresh is the easy part, while staying sharp mentally is another story.

"I think the tougher challenge is mentally, but when you're winning games, as a team, it makes it much easier," Johnson said.

"Last year it was a little bit different mentally than this year, but that's a bigger challenge for us in the dog days than anything."

And Gibson agrees.

"We can do that physically, but the mental part is, 'How hard do you push them mentally and how much can they take?'" Gibson said. "Do you blow stuff out of proportion? In the past, we've had some tougher times and streaks we haven't played well, but we've always bounced back.

"So my guess is we will bounce back."

Montero returns to cleanup spot for D-backs

PHOENIX -- For the second consecutive day, D-backs catcher Miguel Montero was hitting in the cleanup spot on Wednesday.

During Tuesday night's offensive explosion against the Astros, Montero, hitting between Justin Upton and Chris Young, recorded three hits and drove in three runs.

"Right now, Miggy hasn't been swinging the bat well," D-backs manager Kirk Gibson said. "But if he swings the bat the way he did last night, then I like him anywhere. He did a good job there."

Tuesday night marked the seventh time this season he's been in the cleanup spot, where he was hitting .346. For his career, Montero has hit .270 with two home runs and 20 RBIs in 51 starts as a cleanup hitter.

Two of the left-handed hitter's three hits on Tuesday went the opposite way to left field.

"He knows it," Gibson said of the approach. "It's how you change it."

And while playing catcher on a day-to-day basis, sometimes the fatigue takes a toll on the batting average.

"It's a challenge because you get a little tired," Montero said.

He said that to combat that fatigue, from time-to-time he cuts back on his pre or postgame workouts.

"You're always going to slow down your workout a little bit," he said. "Shut it back a little bit but not as much, you just try to stay on top."

Montero entered Wednesday hitting .274 with 12 home runs and 59 RBIs.

Cowgill learning to adjust at big league level

PHOENIX -- Collin Cowgill is happy to be here.

"It's been great so far," the D-backs outfielder said. "A lot of fun, we're a great team, I have great teammates, so I can't ask for much more right now."

Three weeks into his stay at the big league level, Cowgill is hitting .231 (6-for-26) in nine games and said that the mental adjustment from the Minor Leagues was much bigger than the physical adjustment.

"There's a little better pitching," he said. "But it's just the fact that you have to realize it's the same game but in bigger stadiums.

"That part of it, getting adjusted to it more mentally than physically has been the biggest obstacle so far."

He recorded his first Major League hit in a pinch-hit appearance on July 30 against the Dodgers, when he singled to center field off reliever Scott Elbert at Dodger Stadium.

Since then, he's recorded a hit in each of his four starting appearances in left field.

"Once you realize you can play at this level," he said, "You just got to believe in it, and that's a big thing, especially when you first get up here."

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