D-backs Spring Training quick hits

D-backs Spring Training quick hits

2006 record
76-86, tied for fifth in NL West

Projected batting order
1. 2B Orlando Hudson:
  .287 BA, 15 HR, 67 RBI
2. SS Stephen Drew:
  .316 BA, 5 HR, 23 RBI
3. 3B Chad Tracy:
  .281 BA, 20 HR, 80 RBI
4. LF Eric Byrnes:
  .267 BA, 26 HR, 79 RBI
5. 1B Conor Jackson:
  .291 BA, 15 HR, 79 RBI
6. RF Carlos Quentin:
  .253 BA, 9 HR, 32 RBI
7. CF Chris Young:
  .243 BA, 2 HR, 10 RBI
8. C Chris Snyder:
  .277 BA, 6 HR, 32 RBI

Projected rotation
1. RHP Brandon Webb, 16-8, 3.10 ERA
2. LHP Randy Johnson, 17-11, 5.01 ERA
3. RHP Livan Hernandez, 13-13, 4.83 ERA
4. LHP Doug Davis, 11-11, 4.91 ERA
5. TBD

Projected bullpen
Closer: RHP Jose Valverde, 18 saves, 5.84 ERA
RH setup man: Brandon Lyon, 3.89 ERA
LH setup man: Doug Slaten, 0.00 ERA

The new guys
Davis: The left-hander was acquired from the Brewers in the deal that sent Johnny Estrada to Milwaukee. The D-backs like his durability and signed him to a three-year, $22 million deal.

LHP Dana Eveland: Also a product of the Milwaukee trade, the D-backs are intrigued by the numbers the lefty has put up in the Minor Leagues. He pitched well at every stop in the Minors, but has struggled a bit in translating that success to the big leagues. He will compete for the No. 5 spot in the rotation, but the hard thrower could also be used in the bullpen.

Johnson: During his first stint with Arizona, the Big Unit was the club's No. 1 starter and won four straight Cy Young Awards from 1999-2002. This time around, the D-backs would be happy with him being a solid No. 2 starter. Offseason back surgery will put him a little behind the rest of the pitchers when Spring Training starts, but the D-backs seem confident that he'll be ready by the second week in April.

OF Dave Krynzel: Another part of the Milwaukee deal, Krynzel was a high draft pick by the Brewers. Krynzel is similar to Eveland in that he's posted outstanding Minor League numbers, but he's struggled with making the jump to the big leagues. He's out of Minor League options and will be battling for a backup outfield spot.

Prospects to watch
C Miguel Montero: The promising 23-year-old is expected to begin the year in the big leagues, sharing time behind the plate with Snyder. Last September, Montero impressed the coaching staff with the way he handled himself behind the plate.

INF Alberto Callaspo: The organization is very high on Callaspo, who put up monster numbers in Triple-A last season. A versatile player, he's likely to see time at second, short, third and even left field as the team tries to get him as many at-bats as possible.

RHP Edgar Gonzalez: This is a make-or-break spring for Gonzalez. He is out of Minor League options and if he pitches like he did down the stretch last year, he will nab the No. 5 spot in the rotation.

RHP Enrique Gonzalez: No relation to Edgar, Gonzalez pitched well intially after being called up last year, but then struggled. He has the stuff to make it in the big leagues and it's just a matter now of putting it all together.

RHP Dustin Nippert: It's unfair to judge him on his performance with the D-backs last season, as he was called up to make a single start on two occasions and never had a chance to settle in. Tall and lanky, he gets a good downhill plane on his fastball and has a nice 12-to-6 curve. Now, it's a matter of finding consistency with a third pitch.

Returning from injury
OF Jeff DaVanon: The veteran outfielder missed nearly two months after an injured ankle required surgery. He may be a little behind the others when camp opens, but the club expects him to be ready for the season opener.

On the rebound
Davis: He didn't post great numbers last season with the Brewers, and while Davis won't say it, scouts that watched him say that the struggles of the Milwaukee infielders played a big role.

Long gone
RHP Miguel Batista: A solid contributor in the rotation last year, Batista signed a three-year free-agent deal with the Mariners.

INF Craig Counsell: One of the veteran leaders of the team the past two seasons, Counsell signed a free-agent deal with the Brewers. The D-backs are confident that Callaspo can take over Counsell's role as a versatile backup.

Who should be the fifth starter?
Dustin Nippert
Edgar Gonzalez
Enrique Gonzalez
Juan Cruz
Dana Eveland
Estrada: He put up good numbers offensively, but was not well-liked by the coaching staff for his attitude and work behind the plate and was traded to the Brewers.

OF Luis Gonzalez: By far the most notable of the losses, at least from a fan perspective. With young outfielders coming up through the system, Gonzalez was deemed expendable and the club elected not to pick up his option or attempt to re-sign him. He wound up signing with the Dodgers.

RHP Claudio Vargas: The righty was up and down last year. At times he was outstanding, but at other instances he couldn't last until the fifth inning. Looking for more consistency, the D-backs included him in the Davis trade.

2006 hitting leaders (min. 200 at-bats)
Avg.: Estrada, .302
OBP: DaVanon, .371
SLG: Byrnes, .482
Runs: Gonzalez, 93
RBIs: Tracy, 80
Hits: Tracy, 168
2B: Gonzalez, 52
3B: Hudson, 9
HR: Byrnes, 26
SB: Byrnes, 25
2005 pitching leaders (min. 30 IP)
IP: Webb, 235
W: Webb, 16
L: Vargas, 10
Win %: Greg Aquino, 1.000
S: Valverde, 18
ERA: Webb, 3.10
K: Webb, 178
K/9: Valverde, 12.59
WHIP: Webb, 1.13

Triple play: Three questions that need answers
1. Who's No. 5?
Edgar and Enrique Gonzalez will battle along with Eveland, Nippert and Juan Cruz for the final spot in the rotation. Edgar Gonzalez is out of options and if he doesn't make the team, the organization will likely try to trade him.

2. How many pitchers will be on the Opening Day roster?
Whether the D-backs carry 11 or 12 pitchers affects the battle for the final position player spot or two. With four starters expected to pitch 200 innings each, 12 pitchers may be a luxury. On the other hand, if Johnson isn't ready to go until the season's second week, that could change Arizona's thinking.

3. Who's batting where?
The team was built with the idea that the Nos. 1-8 hitters will work the count and put pressure on the other team's pitchers. The team lacks a true leadoff or cleanup hitter, so manager Bob Melvin will have to do some juggling during the spring to find just the right combination.

The bottom line
With four of the five rotation spots spoken for and the everyday lineup pretty well set, most of the competition will center around the fifth starter and the final bullpen and bench spots.

Steve Gilbert is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.