Notes: Struggles opening door No. 5?

Notes: Struggles opening door No. 5?

TUCSON, Ariz. -- Enrique Gonzalez had one bad inning Monday afternoon. Whether or not that hurts his chances of claiming the No. 5 spot in the D-backs' rotation remains to be seen.

Gonzalez, who seemed to have the edge for the final spot in the rotation heading into his outing, retired the first six batters he faced. But in the third inning he allowed seven runs (five earned) on six hits. He recovered to throw hitless fourth and fifth innings.

"The one inning is a concern because we did see some of that last year, and more often than not it was the first inning for him," D-backs manager Bob Melvin said. "We don't like to see that obviously, but his other innings were fairly flawless."

With Edgar Gonzalez all but having the No. 4 slot in the rotation nailed down, Enrique Gonzalez is battling Dana Eveland, Micah Owings and potentially Dustin Nippert and the newly acquired Yusmeiro Petit for the final spot. Enrique Gonzalez got into trouble when he started pitching defensively, which he did in the third inning.

"Pitches a little defensively too much and it ends up costing him," Melvin said of the third inning. "In other innings he's throwing his changeup, he's throwing to both sides of the plate, he's changing speeds throwing sinkers, four-seamers. Just the one inning got away from him again."

Time will tell whether the final spot in the rotation got away, too.

Quentin update: Outfielder Carlos Quentin hit off a tee for the first time since being diagnosed with a slight tear in his left labrum last week.

"Probably looking at some soft toss [Tuesday] and potentially a game after that depending on how he responds," Melvin said.

The club is still optimistic that Quentin will be healthy to start the season. Their hope is for him to be able to get into a few games before the end of camp so that he will get enough at-bats to be ready.

"We're still not out of the woods, obviously, but today was a good day," Melvin said.

It's likely that any game action Quentin sees in the next week will come in Minor League games for two reasons.

First, the rules in those games are flexible, so he could conceivably hit leadoff each inning to get as many as eight or nine at-bats. Second, if Quentin has to start the year on the disabled list, the club could backdate it as many as nine days so long as he doesn't appear in a game at which attendance is charged after March 22. If they backdated him as far as they could, he would be eligible to come off the DL on April 7.

Quentin has been working hard to strengthen the muscles around the tear, so his shoulder felt a little tight when he swung Monday, but he said he did not feel any pain.

"It was a little good test, and I think I passed it so we're ready to move on," he said.

Big Unit update: Johnson participated in pitchers' fielding practice Monday with the other pitchers for the first time this spring.

Johnson, who will start against the Padres at Chase Field on Thursday, has yet to swing a bat, but might have to in that game.

"If we're in a bunt situation, just go ahead and bunt we'll just see how he is when we get toward that day," Melvin said. "We won't have him swing for the fences or anything like that."

Owings in relief? Melvin seemed to raise the possibility that Owings could make the team as a long reliever if he doesn't capture the No. 5 spot in the rotation.

Whereas most times in the National League a long reliever has to be pinch-hit for after his second inning of work, Owings, an excellent hitter in college, would be able to hit for himself.

Regardless of how things end up, Owings has enjoyed his spring.

"I love the competition," he said. "It's been a blast. I've pitched in relief before. Whatever they decide is good with me."

Up next: The D-backs will take on the Rockies at Tucson Electric Park. Dana Eveland will start for the D-backs, with Juan Cruz, Doug Slaten and D.J. Carrasco also scheduled to throw.

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