TUCSON - The Diamondbacks got good news Monday on lefty reliever Shane Nance, as an MRI on his elbow was “clean.”
Trainer Paul Lessard said the MRI, taken Friday but not interpreted until Monday, showed only synovitis, which is inflammation of the lining of the joint.
Lessard said that was the best possible news. (Some had feared a bone chip, which could have shut Nance down for an extended period.) Nance will have the elbow drained, could be playing catch by the end of the week and, with normal recovery, should be ready for opening day.
Nance — who has not thrown since last Thursday, when he started feeling tightness in his triceps — is a good candidate for a bullpen spot. The only other left-handed relievers in camp who are healthy, Jim Parque and Stephen Randolph, will also compete for the No. 5 slot in the rotation.
MORE MOUND UPDATES
Reliever Oscar Villarreal is scheduled to throw off a mound today for the first time this spring. Villarreal, who had been limited since coming down with a sore elbow last month, said he felt fine Monday after having used Sunday to play long toss, throw some sliders on flat ground and do fielding and throwing drills.
- Closer Matt Mantei, who has tender and cracked skin near his right index fingernail, will not throw off a mound for a couple of days (but is able to play catch). Pitching coach Chuck Kniffin brought Mantei some lotions — Burt's Bees and Bag Balm — to try to soften the skin in the area. Also, Lessard applied a bandage with some glue to the nail, which will help Mantei but cannot be used when he pitches in a game.
- Reliever Brandon Lyon, who because of a sore elbow last threw off a mound Feb. 24, could be back on the hill by Thursday.
- Rookie lefty Mike Gosling threw off a mound Monday for the first time since September shoulder surgery. He will go off a mound again Wednesday and expects to be able to pitch for Class AAA Tucson in the first two weeks of its season.
“My mechanics felt surprisingly good,” Gosling said after making 25 pitches (fastballs and change-ups). “I didn't feel as rusty as I thought I would.”
- While lefty Casey Fossum, who had shoulder surgery in October, has extended his catch to 90 feet, he is still not being counted on for opening day. While Fossum rehabilitates, he is also working on an adjustment to his delivery from the windup — bringing his hands over his head, as he once did but scrapped in recent years.
The D-Backs may have found their emergency catcher. Matt Kata, already slated to back up at all the infield positions, caught Gosling's bullpen session Monday. Kata was an emergency catcher at Vanderbilt and although he had not caught since then, he said he felt comfortable.
“You observe, you watch other guys and you try to do it like they do it,” he said.
Second baseman Roberto Alomar, who sat out Sunday because of a corn on his right foot, was 1-for-3 Monday.. . . Arizona extended its working
agreement with Class A Lancaster (Calif.) for two years, through 2006.. . .
Jason Bulger, Arizona's first-round pick in the 2001 draft who last year underwent reconstructive elbow surgery, is on track to open the season at 100 percent, probably in Lancaster.