D-backs Add To Bullpen Mix With Mickolio

PHOENIX—When Kevin Towers was hired as general manager in the final weeks of the 2010 season, he said one of his first orders of business was to remake a leaky Diamondbacks bullpen with big, strong strike-throwers. At first blush, righthander Kam Mickolio could not be a better fit.

The pertinent specs scream it. Mickolio is 6-foot-9, 255 pounds, and packs a mid-90s fastball. In his last stop of 2010, with Scottsdale of the Arizona Fall League, he walked two batters in 12 innings of relief while striking out 18. Towers and the Diamondbacks got an eyeful of Mickolio in the AFL because Scottsdale also had Arizona's prospects.

Mickolio, 26, was obtained with strong-armed righthander David Hernandez for power-hitting third baseman Mark Reynolds on the first day of the Winter Meetings in December.

"Size, arm strength, downward angle," Towers said, summing up Mickolio's strengths. "You can't get more downward than a 6-9 pitcher. A lot of people ask how could you move 30-plus home runs, 40 plus home runs (from Reynolds) a few years ago . . . for us to take the leaps forward that we felt we needed to do, to strengthen the 'pen, we felt this was a tremendous start."

Mickolio is expected to begin his Diamondbacks career as a sixth- or seventh-inning specialist, as part of a set-up crew for new closer J.J. Putz, a free agent who agreed to join Arizona later on the first day of the Winter Meetings. Hernandez and holdovers Juan Gutierrez and Sam Demel also will be used in the set-up mix, with Gutierrez a candidate to begin in the eighth-inning role.

Mickolio brings a young arm, at least in baseball terms. He did not play baseball at Belgrade (Mont.) High because the state did not sanction the sport, and he did not play organized ball until joining a summer league in 2001. Mickolio attended Utah Valley State before being an 18th-round draft pick of the Mariners in 2006. He was sent to Baltimore as part of the lopsided deal for Erik Bedard before the 2008 season.

Mickolio opened last season in Baltimore but was quickly sent down to Triple-A Norfolk, where he went 4-3, 6.37 in 30 appearances with 48 strikeouts and 17 walks in 35 innings. He missed six weeks in June and July with a shoulder strain.

Snake Bites

• Former Cy Young Award winner Doug Drabek has been named pitching coach at high Class A Visalia, which will be his first full-season assignment after serving in the same role with short-season Yakima in 2010.

• Jason Hardtke was promoted to manage Visalia after serving as the hitting coach at Rookie-level Missoula the previous two seasons. Andy Abad will be Visalia's hitting coach after serving in the same capacity at Yakima the previous two seasons.