04/02/2013 1:56 AM ET
Retired ace Webb helps D-backs open season
By Tyler Emerick / MLB.com
PHOENIX -- In a ceremony spanning 25 minutes on Monday night, the D-backs honored past and present players during the club's lead up to the first pitch of the 2013 season.
The buildup began with the Cardinals and D-backs lining up along the first- and third-base lines for a moment of silence honoring the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting victims and the national anthem, performed by Karlie O'Hearn, a 16-year-old cancer survivor from Peoria, Ariz.
After the teams returned to their dugouts, former D-backs pitcher and 2006 National League Cy Young Award winner Brandon Webb threw out the ceremonial first pitch to third-base coach Matt Williams. The offering missed the plate outside and trickled to the backstop while both pitcher and catcher shared a laugh.
Webb, who last pitched in the Majors on Opening Day in 2009, announced his retirement this spring after battling through multiple arm injuries.
The festivities concluded with D-backs second baseman Aaron Hill being presented with his Silver Slugger Award he won last season by leading all NL second basemen in average (.300), home runs (26), doubles (44), RBI (85), total bases (316), on-base percentage (.358) and slugging percentage (.521).
Pollock shines in first Opening Day assignment
PHOENIX -- Hours before first pitch on Monday, D-backs outfielder A.J. Pollock sat at his locker trying to soak in every moment of the day.
Normally, batting seventh and starting in center field wouldn't be anything new to the 25-year-old, but this was different. It marked the first time in his young career he made an Opening Day roster.
And by the end of the night, Pollock had turned in a game he'll remember for a long time to come. Collecting three hits, including driving in the go-ahead runs in the fourth, the outfielder helped the D-backs defeat the Cardinals, 6-2.
"It's all about hitting mistakes," Pollock said. "Today we capitalized on it, some days you don't. I think we did a good job of being patient and waiting for a pitch to hit and we were able to do some damage."
The three hits tied for the most by a D-backs rookie on Opening Day.
"That's really cool," he said. "I'm sure my mom will be all over it."
Pollock appeared in 31 games last season for Arizona and said the knowledge he gained aided him in preparing himself for the big stage Monday.
"It helps a lot," he said. "Mostly if you can settle yourself down you realize it's the same game you've played."
As for the experience as a whole, Pollock described Monday as the culmination of his career to date.
"This is the stage I've always wanted to be on, wherever I've been, it was to get to here," he said. "I feel very fortunate to be here. There's a lot of firsts I have to get out of the way."
After originally being slated to begin his season with Triple-A Reno, Pollock earned the 25-man spot when Adam Eaton and Cody Ross went down with injuries.
"It was real hard, you don't want to see it, but everyone knows it's part of the game," he said. "It stinks but this could be my chance to show what I can do."
Ross targeted for April 8 return
PHOENIX -- Still recovering from a nagging left calf strain that limited him to just four Spring Training games, D-backs outfielder Cody Ross will head to California on Thursday to begin a rehab assignment with Class A Visalia.
D-backs manager Kirk Gibson said the earliest Ross will rejoin the big league club is April 8, when the team returns home from a weekend series in Milwaukee.
"If he's ready to go, he'll play the outfield there, but my guess is he'll probably DH first," Gibson said. "We want to make sure he has enough endurance that he doesn't re-injure it. We have to build him up."
Before shipping out, the 32-year-old will hit against three D-backs Minor League pitchers Tuesday at Chase Field in a simulated game. He'll also work through more running drills to test the calf.
"I think he feels pretty good," Gibson said. "It should be better every time he goes out and runs."
Because his disabled list stint was backdated to March 22, Ross is eligible to return Sunday.
Gregorius eager to be cleared for defense
PHOENIX -- D-backs shortstop prospect Didi Gregorius, who is making his way back from a right elbow strain, will hit in a simulated game on Tuesday. He had 26 at-bats this spring despite not being able to play defense. He's hopeful he can return to the field in a Minor League game within a week or so.
"It's getting better and better every day, it's getting to where I want it to be," Gregorius said. "I just have to keep going forward and hopefully have no setbacks. I'm eager to play defense but I know I can't rush it. Once I get to do that, I think I'll be able to feel like myself again."
Much further behind in his recovery process, Willie Bloomquist hasn't begun participating in baseball activities. The 35-year-old was placed the 15-day disabled list after sustaining an oblique strain at the end of camp.
"He's just doing basic training room stuff right now," manager Kirk Gibson said. "He can still feel it right now."
• Gibson announced Monday that Wade Miley will make his regular-season debut Friday against the Brewers, with Patrick Corbin following him on Saturday. The D-backs had said both pitchers would throw in the series, but they left open the option to flip the days and send Corbin to the mound Friday instead.
Tyler Emerick is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.