Saunders sees positives in first spring start

Saunders sees positives in first spring start

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Joe Saunders was trying to go inside with a four-seam fastball to Rangers outfielder Conor Jackson on Tuesday afternoon, but the ball wound up somewhere else.

"I threw one middle-middle and didn't get it back," Saunders said jokingly referring to the fact that the pitch was right down the heart of the plate. "But my arm feels good and I like where I'm at. Hopefully I'll get them next time."

Saunders allowed two runs on five hits, including a homer to Jackson, and walked a batter while tossing two innings in his spring debut, a 16-3 loss for the D-backs.

"My offspeed stuff was good today," Saunders said. "It was just a matter of trying to locate the fastball in on the right-handed hitters. My sinker away was good. It was just a matter of trying to burying that four-seamer down and in on those guys. If that comes along, I'll be right where I need to be."

Saunders certainly is in a better spot than he was last Spring Training, when an illness early in camp put him behind the other pitchers, and his ineffectiveness kept him from securing a rotation spot until the final week of camp.

An offseason conditioning program has helped tremendously.

"His body is in way better shape," D-backs manager Kirk Gibson said. "You can just tell by looking at him."