4/2/2014 9:50 P.M. ET
Positivity paying off for D-backs' Montero
By Steve Gilbert / MLB.com
PHOENIX -- It is a small sample size, to be sure, but after the way he struggled last year, D-backs catcher Miguel Montero will take all the positive results he can get.
Through the first four games of the season, Montero hit .357 and had shown great patience at the plate in drawing four walks while striking out just once.
"I feel my confidence is there," Montero said. "I'm just trying to get on base, to get a good pitch to hit, trying to not give away at-bats in the first pitch or second pitch. Be ready to hit -- if it's a good pitch, just take a good swing; if it's not a good pitch, just take it."
Montero got off to a slow start last year and it snowballed on him.
As the season wore on, he tried harder and harder and found himself overswinging. He wound up hitting just .230 with 110 strikeouts and 51 walks in 413 at-bats.
When Spring Training started, Montero was still doubting himself, and after a few games early on, he sat down with mental performance coach Peter Crone, who helped Montero start fresh.
"I told him I was probably scared to fail again and I don't want to fail again," Montero said. "That was a good talk, probably a 20-minute talk, and you know what, the next day I felt so much different, I did. I felt so much different. For me, staying strong mentally is more important than going and playing and having a good at-bat, because if you go and play and don't have a good at-bat but you're still positive, there's a good chance that you're going to do something good later in the game."
Campana, Pennington get starts to stay sharp
PHOENIX -- D-backs center fielder Tony Campana and shortstop Cliff Pennington got their first starts of the year Wednesday as manager Kirk Gibson works to keep all his players involved.
With Spring Training just having ended, both Campana and Pennington are coming off having consistent at-bats, something that doesn't happen for bench players during the regular season.
"Timing-wise, I have timing right now, and if you don't play for 10 or 12 days in a row, then it's going to be hard to keep it," Pennington said. "This should be the time of year when the backups or reserves play, they should be pretty close to full go."
Campana won the final spot on the bench because of his versatility in playing all three outfield positions as well as the speed dynamic he brings off the bench in the late innings.
"During spring you get yourself a lot of at-bats and then when the season starts and you're a bench guy, they go away a little bit more, so it's cool to get a start early in the season because you know you've still got your timing still and you've got your rhythm," Campana said. "Eventually that's going to go away a little bit, but you've got to keep it as long as you can."
Campana has perfected a routine over the past year that he thinks helps keep him sharp when he's not playing.
For Pennington it's been a little tougher adjustment because before last season, he played on a regular basis in his career.
"It's still in progress," he said. "I'm working on it. I'm trying different things."
Harris earning higher profile in D-backs' bullpen
PHOENIX -- Outing by outing over the past season, D-backs reliever Will Harris has methodically built a case to pitch in higher leverage situations.
D-backs manager Kirk Gibson used Harris in the eighth inning Tuesday night to protect a 5-4 lead against the Giants.
With setup man David Hernandez out for the year after having Tommy John surgery, it opens the door for Harris to take his spot in the eighth inning.
"It's something that you've kind of got to earn a little bit," Harris said. "That's fine by me."
Harris compiled a 2.91 ERA in 61 relief appearances last year and followed that up with a good spring. Still, until Randall Delgado moved from the 'pen to the rotation following the injury to Patrick Corbin, it looked like Harris might have to start the year at Triple-A Reno.
Harris said he did not pay attention to the roster speculation during the spring.
"I've always taken the approach that if you pitch well and if you're good enough to pitch in the big leagues, you'll pitch in the big leagues," he said. "They'll find a spot for you. If you can help a team win, then you'll be here, and if they don't feel like you can help the team win, then you won't. I just try to do whatever I can to help the team win and I feel like the other will take care of itself."
• Outfielder Cody Ross will begin an injury-rehab assignment with Triple-A Reno on Thursday and could be with the Aces for up to 10 days depending on how he progresses.
"We'll just see how he comes out of it," D-backs manager Kirk Gibson said. "I don't know. It's a feel thing."
• Right-hander Daniel Hudson, who is rehabbing from his second Tommy John surgery in two years, threw a bullpen session Wednesday.
Gibson said Hudson may be able to return in July and when he does, it will be as a reliever rather than a starter.
• Shortstop Didi Gregorius, who was optioned to Triple-A Reno last weekend, will see some time at second base as well as shortstop while he's there.
Gregorius will alternate between second and short with prospect Nick Ahmed.
"I just think they're both shortstops and they can't both play shortstop every day," Gibson said. "It will do them good to work around the bag from both sides. That's kind of, organizationally, what we've decided."
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.