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03/26/2013 11:52 PM ET

Signs point to Ross starting season on DL

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- The D-backs still aren't saying it, but all signs point to outfielder Cody Ross starting the year on the 15-day disabled list.

"I don't want to give our opponents much of a heads-up time to prepare for us," D-backs general manager Kevin Towers said.

Towers did go on to say that Ross would not play in any more Cactus League games, meaning the team could backdate his stint on the DL so he would only have to miss the first five games of the season.

D-backs manager Kirk Gibson went a little further, saying that it was "likely" Ross would start the year on the DL.

The D-backs open the season with three games at home against the Cardinals before traveling to Milwaukee for a three-game series. They then come home for an extended homestand.

"If he does start off on the DL, we think there's a very good chance we could get him back by the time we get back from Milwaukee," Towers said.

Ross did some light jogging on Tuesday, the first time he has done so since March 3.

With center fielder Adam Eaton already slated to start the year on the DL, the loss of Ross means that A.J. Pollock would make the team and likely start in center with Gerardo Parra starting in right and Jason Kubel in left.

Gibson said in that scenario, either Minor Leaguer Alfredo Marte or Tony Campana would make the Opening Day roster as a backup outfielder.

D-backs set rotation for opening series

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- The D-backs will start Ian Kennedy, Trevor Cahill and Brandon McCarthy, in that order, in their opening series against the Cardinals.

If Wade Miley shows he's fully recovered from his tired arm that he experienced a couple of weeks ago, he would start the fourth game of the season against the Brewers in Milwaukee.

"Just being cautious about that, we want to make sure," manager Kirk Gibson said. "We can't have him go out and throw and two starts later have a sore arm. If that's going to be the case then we'd take our time."

If Miley is healthy enough to make that start, the team would likely use five starters the first time through the rotation, with Patrick Corbin or Randall Delgado filling that spot. With an off-day during the season's first week, the D-backs could have elected to go with four starters the first time through the rotation, but adding an extra starter will ease the early-season workload.

The D-backs will have a better idea about Miley on Saturday after he faces the Reds at Chase Field. The team would like him to get up to around 90 pitches with the same life that he showed in his last outing.

Both D-backs general manager Kevin Towers and manager Kirk Gibson insist that a decision has not been made between Corbin and Delgado. Corbin will start Friday's game, while Delgado will follow Miley to the mound on Saturday.

Rehabbing Hudson returns to the mound

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- D-backs right-hander Daniel Hudson threw off the mound on Tuesday for the first time since undergoing Tommy John surgery in July.

"It felt good, surprisingly good, actually," Hudson said of the 30-pitch session. "I felt like there was a little bit of life to it and threw a lot of strikes, which is good as well. Definitely surprising. I wasn't expecting anything near what I did, so a step in the right direction."

D-backs general manager Kevin Towers watched the session, as did manager Kirk Gibson.

"Delivery looked good, balance looked good, threw strikes, was free and easy, it was coming out of his hand well," Towers said. "A lot of guys, when you have six, seven months before being on the mound, you're a little erratic with your command. He got in the zone pretty good."

Hudson, who is expected to return to action sometime around the All-Star break, has tweaked his mechanics a little bit in an effort to put less stress on his shoulder and elbow.

"I might have been a little tentative at first, but then once I got that feeling back in there, I just kind of took it and ran with it," Hudson said.

Nieves named D-backs' backup catcher

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Wil Nieves enjoyed Monday's off-day more than usual after learning following Sunday's game that he had beaten out Rod Barajas for the D-backs' backup-catcher spot, and the veteran expressed his excitement before Tuesday's matchup with the Angels.

Nieves, 35, collected 11 hits in 36 at-bats after the D-backs signed him in August.

Barajas, meanwhile, was signed to a Minor League contract just prior to the start of camp.

The D-backs gave Nieves the edge on defense and thought he could hit for a higher average than Barajas, who possesses more power.

"I thought he made good strides," D-backs GM Kevin Towers said of Nieves. "He came into camp in incredible shape. I thought his focus was much better than it was the last two months of last year. I think having Barajas in here pushed him. He knew there were parts of his game he had to brush up on and be a good teammate and preparation in a lot of areas he needed to focus and work on. It was a hard decision. It could have gone either way. We didn't feel there was a big difference between the two, it's just the way as a group, collectively, we felt we needed to go."

Nieves has plenty of experience being on the roster bubble and did not expect to hear the good news so soon.

"Usually, every team I've been with, they wait until the last second to tell me if I made it or not," Nieves said. "I was competing with a great guy, a great player, a great person, a good teammate. I didn't see him as competition, I saw him as a teammate. Both of us were going to do our jobs, and at the end the team was going to decide who was going to stay."

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.