Diamondbacks' Stange Looking To Get Back On The Radar

TUCSON, ARIZ.—Righthander Daniel Stange is feeling just about right again two years after Tommy John surgery, and the Diamondbacks have noticed.

Stange, added to the 40-man roster in the offseason, has reemerged as one of the organization's top closer prospects in his first major league spring training.

"His arm strength has been very good in camp. It looks like his arm speed has come back," manager A.J. Hinch said after Diamondbacks pitchers threw to live hitters for the first time this spring.

"Mechanically, I like where he is. He is not as long in the back. He's not dragging his arm like he was before the operation. Everybody says after a full year of recovery, it starts to get back to where it was before. If he does come back to where his velocity was and where his slider was, he was one of our top five prospects."

Stange, 24, was a seventh-round draft choice out of UC Riverside in 2006, and he led the Rookie-level Pioneer League with 13 saves in a stint at Missoula that summer. He had 17 saves in 43 appearances for high Class A Visalia and Double-A Mobile the next year, tying for the California League lead with 16 saves before a late promotion, and striking out 58 in 49 combined innings.

He returned from surgery in June 2008, and the Diamondbacks brought him back at a deliberate pace, not wishing to rush the recovery of a pitcher who threw in the mid- to high-90s when he was drafted. Stange has worked on simplifying his delivery.

"I'm feeling good, feeling healthy, back to where I was a couple of years ago. It just took time to strengthen it," Stange said. "I learned a lot from it. I grew as a person and as a baseball player. I have a lot more patience now."

Of his more abbreviated delivery, he added: "I tried to clean it up a little bit. I was working on the front side, as far as not being so big with it."

Snake Bites

• Diamondbacks special assistant Bob Gebhard suffered a mild heart attack while attending a spring training workout on Feb. 24. Gebhard, 67, was taken to a Tucson hospital and had two stents inserted but is expected to make a full recovery, the club said. The first general manager in Colorado Rockies' history, Gebhard joined Arizona in 2005 after a five-year stay in the Cardinals front office.

• Righthander Roque Mercedes reported to camp with no noticeable effects from a broken right cheekbone suffered when he was struck by a line drive in winter ball. "He has a great pitcher's body, and the ball comes out nicely," Hinch said.