D-backs plan to minimize Saito's spring load

D-backs plan to minimize Saito's spring load

D-backs plan to minimize Saito's spring load
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- The D-backs plan on taking things slow with reliever Takashi Saito this spring.

The 42-year-old will be asked to do less when it comes to certain drills, with the goal being to simply make sure his arm strength is built up and his mechanics are in order come Opening Day.

Last season, Saito was limited to 30 games with the Brewers, and D-backs manager Kirk Gibson said he spoke with his counterpart in Milwaukee, Ron Roenicke, who told him that the Brewers wished they had taken it a little easier on Saito during the spring.

It's easy to see why the D-backs want to make sure the right-hander is available for as many games as possible. In six big league seasons, Saito has a 2.18 ERA.

As to the risk in signing Saito to a one-year $1.75 million free agent contract this winter, Towers said that he's heard for four or five years that, with one pitch, Saito's "arm could go."

"I will say we didn't do a physical," Towers said. "We knew he probably would have failed his physical based on everything that we've heard over the last four or five years. You just have to watch how you use him and utilize him in games. But he's in great shape, and he's been about as consistent a reliever in the game over the last five years pitching in high pressure situations. ... We thought his skill set and what he could bring to the club far outweighed the risk."

So far, Saito appears to be fitting in nicely in the clubhouse.

"I just told him to enjoy his teammates," Gibson said. "He's got a lot of personality, I can tell. One of the things I told him was that I knew he had a lot of wisdom. I told him I was a connoisseur for wisdom so any time he felt like sitting down and giving it to me, I'd be open-minded to that. We're very happy to have him."