9/4/2013 9:10 P.M. ET
Montero's bat starting to come around
By Steve Gilbert / MLB.com
PHOENIX -- There's no doubt that 2013 has been a struggle at the plate for D-backs catcher Miguel Montero.
Since coming off the disabled list on Aug. 26, Montero has swung the bat better, hitting .321 in seven games since return from the disabled list. But because of his struggles early in the year, it still leaves him at .235 after going 1-for-4 with an RBI double in Wednesday's 4-3 win over the Blue Jays in 10 innings.
When hitters struggle it usually is a result of either their approach at the plate or their mechanics.
"I think he's gotten away from the approach part because he's not happy with his mechanics and doesn't feel like he's on time," D-backs manager Kirk Gibson said referring to Montero's timing. "So you start to analyze and look at your film and what can I change and you try a lot of different things and I think that's where he's at."
Montero was hitting .300 on April 10 before suffering through a terrible slump that dropped his average to .180 on May 17.
It's a hole he's been trying to dig out of ever since.
"Sometimes people have years like that and you don't really get connected," Gibson said.
At times it looks like Montero is over-swinging, but Gibson said that's not necessarily always the case.
"His swing is longer, so it looks like he's over-swinging," Gibson said.
Three D-backs' affiliates make postseason
PHOENIX -- The No. 1 goal for D-backs director of player development Mike Bell is obviously to get players through the system and to the point where they can contribute at the big league level.
While development is the main mission, that doesn't mean that winning is unimportant.
For the second year in a row the D-backs have at least three affiliates in the playoffs. Last year, five affiliates made the postseason, with three winning their leagues and Triple-A Reno winning both the Pacific Coast League and Triple-A championship.
This year, Double-A Mobile and the Class A teams in Visalia and South Bend qualified for the playoffs.
"We think that having teams in the playoffs affords us a little more time to develop our guys," Bell said. "They get experience in that atmosphere where there's a little more pressure. It allows us to watch how guys perform. It feels like you always find out something about somebody in that setting."
Winning is also important in developing players, the D-backs believe, because it sets the tone for the proper approach to playing team-oriented baseball.
"We talk to our guys about being good teammates a lot," Bell said. "My message to them and our staff's message to them is: When you put a focus on winning and trying to one thing every night to help your team win, that's the way you're going to play your best baseball. It makes you feel good, because I feel like our teams are doing that and they're being rewarded for it."
Injured Putz hopeful to return this season
PHOENIX -- Injured D-backs reliever J.J. Putz said he hopes to throw a bullpen session on Friday and would like to get back on the mound before the end of the season.
Putz suffered a dislocated right pinkie when he was struck by a comebacker on Aug. 23 in Philadelphia.
"It's feeling better," Putz said. "Getting better."
Putz felt like he was finally regaining his old form prior to the injury after struggling to get his arm strength back following a stint on the disabled list.
Putz was on the DL from May 8 until June 29 with a strained elbow, and it took him a while after that to get back on track. In 13 games prior to injuring his pinkie, Putz had allowed only one run in 10 2/3 innings.
"He's been throwing, he's getting better, but he's a ways off," D-backs manager Kirk Gibson said. "He's progressed a lot since he started throwing."
Owings will get chance to show his stuff
PHOENIX -- It sounds like D-backs shortsop prospect Chris Owings will get significant playing time the rest of September, though Willie Bloomquist was in the starting lineup on Wednesday against Toronto.
"We're going to use him," D-backs manager Kirk Gibson said. "We've got to see what he can do. He's earned it, he's played well. I want to find out what he can do, for sure, I don't want him to just sit there."
Owings, who grounded out as a pinch-hitter in Wednesday's 4-3 win in 10 innings, was recently named the Rookie of the Year and Most Valuable Player in the Pacific Coast League, and he was selected for the Futures Game during the All-Star festivities.
In 125 games for Reno, Owings hit .330 with 31 doubles, eight triples, 12 homers and 81 RBIs.
The D-backs are hoping that maybe Owings or third baseman Matt Davidson, who was also called up on Tuesday, can spark an offense that has struggled lately. Davidson and Owings are the second- and third-ranked prospects, respectively, in the organization, according to MLB.com.
"Just the lineup, overall, we play a lot of the same guys and we haven't been successful, so why wouldn't I utilize some of the new guys who are up?" Gibson said.
Steve Gilbert is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Inside the D-backs, and follow him on Twitter @SteveGilbertMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.