Originally posted on Fox Sports Arizona  |  Last updated 3/6/12
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Diamondbacks starter Joe Saunders made his first start of the spring Tuesday at Salt River Fields, and though the results left something to be desired, he felt much better than this time a year ago. Saunders threw 35 pitches over two innings of work against the Texas Rangers, allowing two runs on five hits and a walk in the 16-3 D-backs loss. Former D-back Conor Jackson homered off Saunders in the second inning. "It felt good to get out there for the first time," Saunders said. "I gave up the home run but it feels good. I like where I'm at. "My off-speed stuff was good today. It was just a matter of really just trying to locate the fastball. If that can come along, I'm right where I need to be." Last spring Saunders dealt with neck and back issues while going 1-3 with a 12.46 ERA. The rough spring carried over to the early part of the season, but Saunders turned things around to win 12 games and throw a career high 212 innings. This spring, Saunders is in better shape and having an easier time preparing for the season ahead. "It's quite a difference," Saunders said. "You maybe do something different in the offseason, maybe start throwing a little bit earlier. I tried to do that this year to the best I can, and I'm just trying to get my arm in shape pretty good. I like where it's at and we'll go from there." Manager Kirk Gibson has noticed. "He just physically wasn't very good last year with the neck, and his back was hurting, too," Gibson said. "He's way better this year. Joe feels good. His body is in way better shape. You can just tell by looking at him." SKAGGS READY FOR SPRING DEBUT Top pitching prospect Tyler Skaggs was scratched from his scheduled Cactus League debut Saturday with tightness in his throwing shoulder, creating a bit of a stir about the 20-year-old left-hander's health. He reassured everyone that the tenderness he felt was minor and nothing to worry about. Now Skaggs is set to make his first start of the spring Wednesday. He says he feels great and his shoulder has been trouble-free since Saturday. "Everything's good," Skaggs said Tuesday. "I'm excited to pitch tomorrow. I've been ready since the first game. I really just want to get out there and pitch." There's been much buzz in camp about Skaggs and fellow top pitching prospect Trevor Bauer, who made his spring debut Saturday. Skaggs will have to pitch well to match the impression Bauer made in two perfect innings, but he is more focused on getting himself ready for the season. "I just want to get my feet under me," Skaggs said. "Just relax, take it all in and go out there and work hard." Skaggs said the first outing of the spring will cause some butterflies in his stomach. "If you don't get nervous before you pitch, you shouldn't even be playing anymore," Skaggs said. "I get nervous before every game no matter how big or small it is." J.J.'S TIMETABLE As long as Trevor Cahill and Skaggs pitch as planned Wednesday, all D-backs pitchers will have seen spring action except closer J.J. Putz. Putz, who splits his spring trainings between back fields and games, is set to make his first spring appearance on Friday against the Mariners in Peoria. D-backs manager Kirk Gibson said Tuesday that Putz's appearance will "probably" come earlier in the game before regulars exit for the day. "We're excited to get him," Gibson said. "When you throw later, especially with a guy like J.J., it actually works better because it gives him more time to prepare and work on his stuff. And in the important role of closer he's got, it really gives him an opportunity to work on mechanical things." WEDNESDAY'S PROBABLES Cahill makes his unofficial D-backs debut against the Cleveland Indians on Wednesday at Salt River Fields. He'll be followed by Skaggs. Other scheduled to pitch are Zach Kroenke, Craig Breslow, Brad Ziegler, Joe Martinez, Brett Lorin, Kevin Munson and Jonathan Albaladejo. Cleveland will start left-hander David Huff. TUESDAY'S RESULT The Rangers jumped on the D-backs early, scoring six runs in the first four innings, then battered Yonata Ortega for six runs in the seventh inning for a 13-0 lead. Outfielder David Winfree hit a three-run homer in the D-backs part of the seventh to avoid the shutout, but the Rangers' used 19 hits for a 16-3 win, dropping the D-backs to 1-3 in Cactus League play. NOTES D-backs relief prospect Evan Marshall left the game in the eighth inning after being hit in the chest by a line drive. Gibson said Marshall didn't appear to be significantly injured but would likely be evaluated further Tuesday night. A day after getting a start in center field in place of Chris Young, Gerardo Parra moved to right field Tuesday and again impressed defensively with a sliding catch in foul territory during the fifth inning. Parra is expected to fill the fourth outfielder role after being bumped out of his spot in left field by the signing of Jason Kubel. After missing two days with a groin issue, Rusty Ryal returned to the D-backs lineup as a designated hitter Tuesday. First baseman Geoff Blum (knee) missed a third straight day. ... The D-backs won't use a DH Wednesday, as Gibson hopes to get Cahill, who has spent his career in the American League, and Skaggs a chance to hit. Except for Cahill, the D-backs don't plan to have pitchers hit until March 20.
MORE FROM YARDBARKER:
Best athlete by state all time
GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Yordano Ventura killed in car accident

Falcons benefit from questionable call after turnover

Report: Tomlin, Steelers fined Antonio Brown $10,000

Ten biggest winners and losers from NFL Championship Sunday

Luke Walton rips Lakers after 'embarrassing' 49-point loss

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Oregon firing OC David Reaves after DUI arrest

Report: Colts hired psychologists for Pagano-Grigson relationship

Report: Kelly a candidate to replace Shanahan as Falcons OC

Baron Davis blames Russia for Westbrook All-Star snub

Reason Jabari Parker was benched revealed

Sanders, Ware think Romo would be good fit for Broncos

Best of Yardbarker: Roger Goodell does what we all expected him to do

Eat, Drink, Watch for Jan. 20-22, 2017: Dips, rye, football and Death Race 2050

Box Score 1/20: 37 years ago today, Carter said no to Moscow

NFC & AFC Championship preview: We love scoring

Roger Goodell is a coward, but then we knew that

TailGreater: Picking the conference champions by their signature cocktails

The 10 best sports docs available for streaming

Ranking the top three conferences in college basketball

The NFC Championship’s two most important players

Eight bold predictions for second half of NBA season

Box Score 1/19: Happy anniversary to the 'Tuck Rule' game

Clarification Please: Why college basketball needs to ditch the possession arrow

MLB News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Best of Yardbarker: Roger Goodell does what we all expected him to do

Eat, Drink, Watch for Jan. 20-22, 2017: Dips, rye, football and Death Race 2050

QUIZ: Name the owners of these 50 famous NFL nicknames

NFC & AFC Championship preview: We love scoring

Roger Goodell is a coward, but then we knew that

The 10 best sports docs available for streaming

TailGreater: Picking the conference champions by their signature cocktails

The 'What's a Romo worth these days anyway?' quiz

Clarification Please: Why college basketball needs to ditch the possession arrow

NBA hotline bling: Derrick Rose gets disconnected

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker