Zagurski In The Mix For D-backs Bullpen Role
SCOTTSDALE, ARIZ.—Lefthander Mike Zagurski came to the Diamondbacks so late in September that he didn't have a chance to pitch in a regular season game, instead being used to keep teammates sharp by working simulated games.
Things are different now. Zagurski, who spent his first seven seasons in the Phillies system, will get every chance to break into the bullpen this season. It appears to be a good fit. General manager Kevin Towers likes a variety of styles and arm angles among his relief corps and believes in rewarding production.
He also is out of options, which could factor into the equation. The general consensus is that veteran newcomer Craig Breslow and second-year man Joe Paterson are the top contenders for two lefty jobs, though Paterson has options remaining.
Zagurski, 29, drew awkward swings with his cut fastball early this spring, a pitch he added last year while working with Triple-A Lehigh Valley pitching coach Rod Nichols.
"We'll get a lot of looks at him this spring. We don't have a lot of lefthanded options. If he pitches well enough to make this club and pushes one of those other guys out, so be it," Towers said. "With lefthanded relief as scarce as it is, he's probably a guy who wouldn't get through waivers."
The 6-foot, 225-pound Zagurski spent parts of three seasons with the Phillies, making 25 of his 37 career major league appearances in 2007. Adding to his low 90s fastball and slurvy breaking ball, his cutter bores in to righthanders. He went 4-0, 2.65 with 11 saves at Lehigh Valley last year, striking out 63 in 54 innings—arguably his season since signing as a 12th-round pick out of Kansas in 2005.
"I certainly have a ways to go to be where I want to be or where anybody wants me to be," Zagurski said. "The cutter has come along. I'll keep plugging away and hopefully it will become just as good as the others."
• Matt Davidson impressed with his defense at third base early in spring training. With Bobby Borchering moved to left field, Davidson and Ryan Wheeler are the third basemen closest to the majors behind starter Ryan Roberts.
• Arizona signed veteran first baseman Randy Ruiz. Ruiz, 34, won Triple-A Pacific Coast League MVP honors in 2009, when he hit .320/.392/.584 with 25 homers for Las Vegas, before playing the last two seasons in Japan.