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02/22/2013 4:55 PM ET

D-backs ready for first spring game

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- The D-backs open their Spring Training slate of games Saturday afternoon with a 1:05 p.m. MT game against the Rockies at Salt River Fields.

The game is the first of 37 games for the D-backs this spring, which is a week longer than usual due to the World Baseball Classic.

"I'm glad we're starting to play games," Arizona manager Kirk Gibson said. "I think we're ready for it. Hopefully we'll have good energy."

The past two springs, the D-backs have struggled in the win-loss column in large part, the organization believes, because of all the extra work put in during the weeks before games start and in the mornings after games start.

This year, Gibson has had his team work hard for two straight days and then scheduled a much lighter day, or what he calls a recovery day, to try to keep everyone's legs fresh.

In the initial games, Gibson will look to get all his players acclimated to playing a few innings at a time. He also has to make sure that the players who will be participating in the Classic are ready to go even earlier than others.

"I'm just trying to get everybody in, get them in the game and keep them healthy," Gibson said. "When you go up for your first at-bat, you're pretty pumped up, you haven't been there in a while. So I want to get them comfortable in their positions, on the bases and in the batter's box, in the clubhouse and within our system, and then we start to figure things out. There's a long way to go."

Saturday is the first step on that journey.

Skaggs set for D-backs' Cactus League opener

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- For the second straight year, D-backs left-hander Tyler Skaggs is scheduled to start the team's Cactus League opener.

This year, Skaggs, one of the organization's top pitching prospects and a candidate for the fifth starting spot, hopes to actually get on the mound.

Last year Skaggs had to be scratched due to some tenderness in the front of his shoulder. This year, he seems ready to go.

"If you don't get nervous, you shouldn't be playing, so of course I'll be a little nervous but I'm excited to be able to be the first starter and go first and kind of show them what I can do and that I belong out there and show what I've got," Skaggs said. "My arm feels great, so it's going to be fun. It's exciting to kind of set the bar and hopefully set the bar high, so we'll see how it goes."

Kirk Gibson said he will caution his pitchers not to try to do too much too soon.

"The first thing we preach is command the fastball, so right now that's what I'd like to see -- command the fastball, spot it where they want it, keep the ball down," Gibson said. "If they want to go up, go up where you want it. That's the No. 1 thing at this point. And again stay healthy. Get them in and try to get them built up first. I don't really want guys to go out there and throw 15 curveballs and try to miss everybody's bat. That time will come when you use your whole arsenal."

Lefties Joe Paterson and Eury de la Rosa along with righties Heath Bell, David Hernandez, Nelson Figueroa, Eric Smith and Starling Peralta are scheduled to follow Skaggs to the mound Saturday.

Patrick Corbin, who is also battling for the No. 5 spot in the rotation, will start Sunday against the Rockies. Charles Brewer, Warner Madrigal, Garrett Mock and Bo Schultz are also slated to see action.

The final candidate for the fifth spot, Randall Delgado, will start Monday's game against the Royals.

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