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Ziegler ready to close while 'pen regroups

Ziegler ready to close while 'pen regroups

PHOENIX -- For now, it appears Brad Ziegler is the closer for the D-backs.

Ziegler picked up the save Sunday against the Giants when he pitched a scoreless ninth to wrap up a 3-1 Arizona win.

"It's somewhat by committee right now," D-backs manager Kirk Gibson said. "I kind of make my decision as it goes on within the game. Although I did tell Ziggy the other day that I was thinking he would be the guy, so that's kind of where I'm at right now."

The D-backs have a National League-worst 19 blown saves this year. Closer J.J. Putz missed time with an elbow injury and is still in the process of building up his arm strength. While he's doing that, the team has used him in non-save situations.

Setup man David Hernandez has had his share of struggles, but has pitched better of late.

Heath Bell also got a chance at being the closer, but he struggled.

Ziegler said he was under the impression that he was the closer until further notice, but went out of his way to say that, while he enjoys the role, he doesn't see it as a long-term fit.

"I think, ideally, if everyone is pitching well then I'm not our closer," Ziegler said. "J.J. is the guy, or Heath is the guy or David is the guy. ... Their style of pitching is better suited for that role. I'm better suited to come in with runners on base. At the same time, when those guys are struggling if they feel I'm the best guy for that spot, then I'll jump in there and try and get three outs."

Ziegler likely would not have been considered for the role had he not improved his performance against left-handed hitters.

In 2010, lefties hit .317 against Ziegler, and in 2011 it was a .373 mark. Last season it fell to .268, and to try to decrease it more, Ziegler spent the offseason working on a changeup, which he had used sparingly in past seasons.

This year, Ziegler is holding lefties to a .222 mark.

"It's just something I worked really hard on in the offseason," Ziegler said of his changeup. "In Spring Training I was throwing it even when it wasn't a good time to throw it just because I wanted to keep throwing it. The results are finally starting to come where I'm extremely confident in it and I'll throw it in any count."

Steve Gilbert is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Inside the D-backs, and follow him on Twitter @SteveGilbertMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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