GM Byrnes confident in group, despite mixed results in spring
TUCSON, Ariz. -- Seven and three are the key numbers to remember when trying to figure out how the D-backs' bullpen will look come Opening Day.
That's seven, as in the number of candidates still remaining in camp, to fill three spots.
Eliminated from the competition on Wednesday were Seth Etherton, Jon Coutlangus, Jailen Peguero and Esmerling Vasquez.
That leaves Travis Blackley, Billy Buckner, Juan Gutierrez, Bobby Korecky, Yusmeiro Petit, Leo Rosales and Doug Slaten still fighting things out.
Petit has to be the front-runner for one of the openings. The right-hander is out of options, pitched well as a spot starter for the team in 2008 and has been one of the lone bright spots this spring with a 1.13 ERA.
"Petit has pitched well every time out," D-backs manager Bob Melvin said.
The same is certainly not true for the others.
Buckner has had only one poor outing, the last time out against the A's, and he has posted the second-best numbers of the group with a 3.38 ERA.
The others have pitched well at times, but overall their numbers are not pretty. Korecky has a 10.80 ERA while Gutierrez checks in with an 8.68 mark.
Despite that, general manager Josh Byrnes said he is still confident in the group.
"I think we've seen some flashes this spring," Byrnes said. "Korecky threw better his last time out, Slaten threw better, Blackley threw well in the [World Baseball Classic]. Everyone has done something. Now it's a matter of getting some consistency."
The D-backs' organization as a whole does not put a lot of stock into a pitcher's spring numbers, preferring to take a long-term view.
"I think sometimes in the Cactus League it's hard to perform," Byrnes said. "You're trying to tack on the extra inning, get stretched out a little bit. I think it's more how they are throwing and, of course, their track records, the longer evaluation. Spring performance is factored in, but not in front of other elements that we're looking at."
Minor League options always factor into things. In addition to Petit, Gutierrez and Blackley are both out of options, meaning they would have to be placed on waivers if the team decides to send them down to the Minors.
It is also possible that the D-backs could find someone to their liking on waivers toward the end of camp similar to what happened in 2007 when they claimed right-hander J.D. Durbin.
"It's too hard to handicap at this point," Melvin said. "There are a lot of variables and we still have lots of time left."
Seven relievers vying for three spots | dbacks.com: News