Owings heats up heading into first start

Owings heats up heading into first start

CINCINNATI -- It was a Spring Training that, at least from a numbers standpoint, Micah Owings would just as soon forget.

The D-backs right-hander was 0-2 with a 9.77 ERA in five big league starts, and he spent the spring tinkering with some mechanical adjustments, such as moving from the left side of the pitching rubber to the right and also dealing with a sore arm after his first start.

Owings has gone back to the left side of the pitching rubber, and his outings were headed in an upward direction toward the end of spring, culminating Saturday with a decent outing against the Monterrey Sultanes from Mexico.

"I felt like I had the best stuff I had all spring in that game," Owings said. "It was nice to feel that way. Only time will tell, but I think from the start of spring until now, this is the best I've felt."

Owings will make his first start of the 2008 season Friday when the D-backs open a three-game series with the Rockies at Coors Field.

At times this year, D-backs manager Bob Melvin has hit Owings higher than ninth in the lineup, a nod to the fact that the pitcher hit .333 last year. But expect to see Owings in the No. 9 spot Friday.

"I don't even have an eight hitter," Melvin said, referring to the fact that Justin Upton, who occupies that spot, arguably could be hitting higher. "I expect [Upton] at some point in the season to move himself up."

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