5/11/2013 8:24 P.M. ET
Runners staying put against Montero, pitching staff
By Tyler Emerick / MLB.com
PHOENIX -- If it seems like Miguel Montero hasn't caught as many runners stealing this season, it's because teams haven't been testing the D-backs nearly as much. In the club's first 36 games, opponents have only attempted to steal 14 times, the fewest in all of baseball.
The next lowest is the Yankees with 17, while the highest belongs to the Cubs with 41.
"If a guy gets on first, we're going to keep him there," D-backs manager Kirk Gibson said. "Give the pitcher a chance to get out of it with a double play."
While the threat of Montero's arm certainly plays a role in teams electing to stay put -- he threw out runners 42 percent of the time in 2012 -- Gibson also believes his pitching staff has done a good job of holding runners.
"It's important to keep the guy there, make the other team needs two hits to score him," Gibson said. "Our guys are comfortable throwing all over the diamond. They buy into it and put the work in and take it very seriously. They are also very talented to do so and execute it."
When Gibson took over as manager of the D-backs, he said some of the pitchers were taking as long as 1.6 seconds to throw home, much slower than the league average, which is around 1.2-1.4 seconds. Getting that number down, the manager said, has played a big part in discouraging opponents from taking off.
"I knew that had to change," Gibson said. "It's something we look at. I stole over 300 bases in my career so I know what people are looking for, so we're going to try to deter it."
Harris impresses in brief D-backs debut
PHOENIX -- It didn't last long, but Will Harris made his D-backs debut Friday against the Phillies, striking out the only batter he faced, Michael Young, on four pitches.
After being put on waivers by the Rockies and A's earlier this season, Harris was glad to be back on the mound in the Majors, no matter how brief it was.
"It was good," said Harris, 28. "I knew I was only facing one hitter so that made it easy for me to focus on what I wanted to do to Young, and that was all I had to worry about."
When Harris got the call up to the big leagues on Wednesday with J.J. Putz landing on the disabled list, D-backs manager Kirk Gibson initially said he'd try to ease the right-hander into action. That wasn't exactly the case though, as Harris worked the first out of the eighth inning Friday in a tie game.
Still, his quick disposal of Young made a strong first impression on Gibson.
"If you look at how to get a guy's feet wet, I'd rather do it that way than put him in in a blowout," Gibson said Saturday. "He threw a really good sequence and he'll be better prepared because of it. Anybody is going to be nervous on a new team, you want to impress and he did a good job."
Moving forward, Friday's outing vs. the right-handed-hitting Young could be a predictor of what's to be expected of Harris in the future. At Triple-A Reno before his promotion, Harris' splits against lefties and righties were a stark contrast. Against left-handed batters, he struggled mightily, allowing seven runs (six earned) on nine hits over 5 2/3 innings. When matched up vs. righties, he was dominant, tossing six shutout frames and giving up just three hits.
So while Tony Sipp fills the left-handed specialist role, Harris could see most of his time coming against righties.
"That's how the big league bullpen is run, it's more matchups than it is in the Minors," Harris said. "I'm sure I'll face my fair share of righties. But I'm comfortable facing both. It seemed like every time I gave up runs in the Minors it was to lefties, it was a little skewed there but I don't have a problem with facing them though if the situation calls for it. Still, I kind of know my slot, it's defined a little bit."
Gibson unfazed in Williams' work as third-base coach
PHOENIX -- D-backs third-base coach Matt Williams has had a rough couple of days directing runners rounding third for home, so after seeing him get down on himself a bit, manager Kirk Gibson decided to offer a few words of encouragement.
"I just told him to let it go," Gibson said. "He beats himself up, just like I would and all the players do. He's been great though. Those things are going to happen."
In the second inning on Thursday with one out and Martin Prado on first, Gerardo Parra smacked a ball down the left-field line and Williams initially signaled for Prado to try to score, but as he rounded third, Williams changed his mind and threw up the stop sign. Prado hit the brakes, but at that point, he was too far off the bag and the Phillies tagged him out before he could retreat to third.
A similar situation played a day later in the first inning on Friday, but it had a better ending for the D-backs. With two down and Paul Goldschmidt on first base, Eric Chavez doubled down the right-field line and Williams motioned his arm in the air for Goldschmidt to score, but he again switched the sign to stop once he saw the relay throw coming.
This time though, Goldschmidt ran through the belated stop sign and beat the throw home.
Even with the couple of miscommunications, Gibson's confidence in Williams hasn't wavered.
"He's unreal, he's very talented at what he does in every respect," Gibson said. "He's going to make mistakes but ... you can't even imagine what he does for us."
• Miguel Montero hitting in the eight-hole didn't last long. The D-backs catcher was moved back up in the lineup Saturday, batting fifth.
Struggling at the plate this season, Montero was penciled in eighth on Friday for the first time since May 12, 2011. He ended up smacking a game-winning solo homer off the right-field foul pole Friday, lifting his batting average to .202.
"To be honest, I didn't even know his stats were struggling," first baseman Paul Goldschmidt said. "Because he does so many other things for us."
• Using a heavy shift against Ryan Howard this series, the D-backs kept the Phillies slugger hitless in eight at-bats through the first two games. Like many teams when they play Philadelphia, Arizona has nearly emptied out the left side of the infield to play all four infielders up the middle and to the right, Howard's pull side.
With no third baseman down the left-field line, laying down a bunt to the emptied area seems attractive at first glance, but D-backs manager Kirk Gibson thinks it's easier said than done.
"If you're Howard and you're down by a run, go ahead and bunt, but he isn't getting paid to bunt the ball, he's getting paid to hit the ball out of the park," Gibson said. "You make your choices, if he wants to bunt, go ahead and bunt. Like last night with Ian [Kennedy] on the mound, he's an exceptional fielder, so he would've had to make a good bunt. Not just any bunt is going to get you a hit. It's not that easy."
• With Triple-A Reno pitchers hitting for themselves next week, the D-backs sent Adam Eaton (elbow) to Class A Advanced Visalia on Saturday to resume his rehab assignment as a designated hitter.
Tyler Emerick is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.