Originally posted on Fox Sports Arizona  |  Last updated 3/17/12
SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Kirk Gibson does not like to go out on a limb, but in Josh Collmenters case, he's willing to make an exception. Collmenter will open the season in the starting rotation, Gibson confirmed before the D-backs 8-6 exhibition victory over Texas at Surprise Stadium on Saturday. The announcement was not really a surprise considering Collmenters 2011 resume, but it came in the wake of recent national speculation that Collmenter could open the season as a long man in the bullpen if one of the young guns -- Trevor Bauer, Tyler Skaggs, et al -- were to make the team out of spring training. "What Josh Collmenter did for us last year ... if he stays healthy, hes going to be a starter. Absolutely. And you know I dont like saying things like that because I have to retract, but thats how I feel. "'Colly' was phenomenal. Huge games for us," Gibson said. Gibson pointed specifically to Game 3 of the NLDS, when Collmenter limited Milwaukee to one run on two hits over seven innings in an 8-1 victory that prevented the Brewers from a sweep. "Here we are scrambling, just trying to keep our heads above water, down two games," Gibson said. "Theres more than physical ability to what he did there. What we look for, he has." Collmenter, who turned 26 in February, was 10-10 with a 3.38 ERA in 31 appearances for the D-backs, 24 starts, after being promoted from Class AAA Reno on April 15. He finished fifth in NL Rookie of the Year balloting. Roster composition is a constant balancing act, something Gibson, Kevin Towers and the baseball operations staff spend most of their time on. The D-backs made a host of moves last season: Ryan Roberts won the job at third base, Paul Goldschmidt was promoted to play first, and Aaron Hill and John McDonald were acquired to rework the middle infield defense. Meanwhile, Collmenter, Jason Marquis and young lefty Wade Miley were added the starting rotation. There could be a point when one of the talented youngsters makes the D-backs rethink their position on the staff's makeup. With the talent on hand, the team expects it. But that future is not now. "You look down the road and you have guys that continue to develop, and it makes you better -- I think you look at all of them (options)," Gibson said. "Im open-minded to anything that will help us be a better team. You always try to understand. Trevor Bauer? Is he solely a starter? Can he come out of the bullpen? What will he be as a starter? What will be out of the bullpen? "Collmenter. Is he a starter? Can he relieve? With Bauer as a starter and Collmenter as a reliever, are we a better team? Or are we better off with Collmenter in there and somebody else" in the bullpen? "Thats just the way you do it. You guys know I like versatility in my position players. Id argue its the same for pitchers. Somewhere down the road, if Bauer or Skaggs, if they continue to improve and improve and we cant keep them out of the big leagues ... if we can get deeper in pitching, Im all for it. "I like good arms. I like guys who compete. These young guys that we have, they compete." KUBEL GOES YARD(S) Jason Kubel signed with the D-backs over the winter because he felt his gap power would play nicely at Chase Field. It played well 31 miles northwest in Surprise on Saturday, when he hit home runs to left-center and right-center fields, his first two homers of the spring. He also tripled to the wall in right-center. "Thats what Im really trying to get back to doing. I feel like Im at my best when I can do that," said Kubel, who raised his batting average 81 percentage points to .241 by going 3 for 4. "Its clearly been a slow start, but the last five days or so, its been coming around. Ive been hitting balls a lot harder lately, but they are either too high or right at somebody. Im not in a panic yet. There is still a couple of weeks left." Kubel hit in the cleanup spot Saturday. "Hes been getting close," Gibson said. "He can hit it to either alley. He has pretty good power the other way." SUNDAY PROBABLES Trevor Cahill will make his third spring start and Tyler Skaggs will make his second when the D-backs play a split-squad doubleheader Sunday. Cahill (0-2, 9.00 ERA) is to face his former team, Oakland, at Salt River Fields at 1:10 pm. The As are scheduled to start Tyson Ross. Skaggs (0-0, 13.50) is to oppose Cincinnati Reds right-hander and former Arizona State sar Mike Leake (0-0, 7.71) at Goodyear Ballpark at 1:05 pm. Bryan Shaw, Joe Paterson, Craig Breslow and J.J. Putz are scheduled to follow Cahill against the As. NOTES Joe Saunders gave up three runs on eight hits in three innings Saturday after being knocked out three batters into his previous start against Cleveland on Monday. He threw 64 pitches and afterward blamed his fastball location for most of his problems. "I was very pleased how I was throwing my breaking ball. My changeup was good. It was a matter of getting my fastball down in the zone. I think fastball location is easiest to get, because you throw so many of them," Saunders said. He reported no issues with his lower left leg, where he was struck by a Carlos Santana line drive Monday. Top-of-the-order hitters Ian Kinsley, David Murphy and Michael Young had six of the Rangers' eight hits. ... The results of Rusty Ryals MRI were not known before Saturdays game, but Gibson said Ryal came away from his left hamstring injury better than expected. Ryal said he heard something pop in the hamstring as he hit first base while extending to try to beat out an infield single Friday. Follow Jack Magruder on Twitter
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