3/19/2014 2:55 A.M. ET
Confident Putz undaunted by spring struggles
By Steve Gilbert / MLB.com
SYDNEY -- D-backs reliever J.J. Putz has not pitched well this spring, but the right-hander said he believes things are turning around.
Putz made a few mechanical changes this spring, and he believes that thinking about them too much while pitching has led to the struggles.
"You make a bad pitch and your mind starts going back over all the mechanical checkpoints instead of just throwing free and easy," Putz said. "Now it's time to put that in the past and just go."
That doesn't mean that he scrapped the changes.
"It's to the point now where I think the muscle memory has kind of taken over to the point where I don't have to think about it very much," Putz said.
Putz is set to throw a simulated game Thursday, his last tuneup before the regular season gets started Saturday.
"I think it will be good just to get on the mound here with the backdrop and see the visual from the mound to the plate," he said.
Owings, Gregorius to each start once in Opening Series
SYDNEY -- Chris Owings will start at shortstop for the D-backs in the season-opening series with the Dodgers.
So will Didi Gregorius.
"I'm probably going to play one of them each day," D-backs manager Kirk Gibson said. "Not sure how I'm going to do it yet."
In other words, the shortstop battle is still ongoing. And it could continue through the reopening of the regular season on March 31 against the Giants.
That's because with Cody Ross starting the season on the disabled list, Arizona would have room to carry both shortstops initially.
D-backs ponder how Cricket Ground will play
SYDNEY -- The D-backs took batting practice for the first time at Sydney Cricket Ground, and they were pleased with how the ball carried.
One thing that could be a little tricky is it appears that the winds swirl within the stadium, making it difficult to get a consistent read on it.
The D-backs plan to play a three-inning simulated game in the stadium Thursday prior to the Dodgers' exhibition game with Team Australia.
"Kind of play the field a little bit," D-backs manager Kirk Gibson said. "There's a lot of foul territory here. Kind of interesting."
That could impact how first baseman Paul Goldschmidt positions himself.
"Goldy plays off the line quite a bit, it will be interesting to see how he gets over there [in foul ground]," Gibson said. "Might want to modify that, depending on the hitter."
Both teams seemed to be pleased with the way the stadium has been converted from cricket to baseball, and the batter's eye in center has been given the thumbs up.
"They've done a good job of getting ready," Gibson said. "It is different, the way the stadium looks, so you have to try to learn the characteristics and be ready to deal with whatever it might throw at you."
The positioning of the lights is a little different than a regular baseball stadium, so the D-backs are anxious for their exhibition game against Team Australia on Friday night to get a chance to experience them.
Gibson said he thinks that the ball will not carry as well at night here as it does during the day.
• Outfielder Cody Ross will be placed on the 15-day disabled list Wednesday. Because the move can be backdated, Ross will be eligible to come off the DL in time for the fourth game of the regular season.
• The D-backs have not decided how their rotation will shape up beginning with the reopening of the regular season on March 31.
"We'll see how we get through these games probably, and when we get back we'll decide," Gibson said. "Our options will be limited."
• The D-backs are hopeful that Bronson Arroyo will throw a simulated game Wednesday back in Arizona. If he does and if he does not have any setbacks, he could still possibly be able to make his start the first time through the rotation.
• Gibson was asked about the possibility of there being an altercation with the Dodgers during the two games, given the nasty fracas that took place last year.
"We're going to play baseball," he said. "We're going to play as hard as we can. We're going to try to break up the double play. We're going to be aggressive. We're going to have to throw the ball inside, they're going to have to throw the ball inside, that's just baseball."
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.