John Patterson may be pitching for a Diamondbacks roster spot today.
Patterson, scheduled to start against the Texas Rangers at Tucson Electric Park, has been the presumed No. 4 starter since camp opened.
But in recent days manager Bob Brenly has not been willing to commit to Patterson in the rotation.
“I'm still not comfortable making a declaration, let's put it that way,” Brenly said Monday. “Until we're content that we've seen everybody show everything they can do, we'll make the decision when we have to.”
Asked if the rotation spot is Patterson's to lose, Brenly replied, “That's fair.”
Should the D-Backs return Patterson to the minors — Brenly has said Patterson, a rookie right-hander impressive in his call-ups last year, is not suited to relief — there are a couple of possibilities.
Oscar Villarreal, a 21-year-old right-hander who has had an impressive spring, will get another look Thursday in an exhibition at Class AA El Paso. And Miguel Batista, told Saturday he will open the season in relief, could even be brought back into the rotation. In that case, Byung-Hyun Kim would probably slide into the No. 4 spot, with Batista available out of the bullpen when the team skips his turn.
Returning Batista to a starting role would also allow Arizona to keep relievers Mike Jackson, Mike Koplove, Bret Prinz and Greg Swindell instead of having to cut at least one of the four. Lefty Stephen Randolph, out of minor league options, is also in the bullpen picture.
Patterson is 1-2 with a 5.87 ERA in five spring outings, allowing 25 hits in 15 1/3 innings.
“We would like to see him kind of get locked in here with his command of his pitches and his delivery,” pitching coach Chuck Kniffin said. “His arm strength's fine.
“His delivery has to be where he's not overthrowing. He's got to get to the point where he's commanding (the fastball to) both sides of the plate.”
Complicating the evaluation is that in his last outing, Patterson had some skin crack away from the fingernail on the inside of his right thumb. But trainer Dave Edwards said Patterson had no problem in his Sunday bullpen session.
WHO’S ON THIRD?
The Opening Day third baseman has not been named, but Brenly often relies on historical matchups to help make out his lineup.
With right-hander Hideo Nomo scheduled to pitch for the Dodgers next Monday, left-handed-hitting Craig Counsell might seem the pick over Matt Williams. But they have the same career batting average against Nomo — .231 — and Williams has shown more power (two homers in 26 at-bats). Also, right-handers hit Nomo better last year than left-handers.
Williams and Counsell homered in Monday's 8-2 defeat of San Francisco.
David Dellucci suffered a bruised right knee Monday as he ran into the left-field wall while making a catch. A further examination found a strain in the knee and Dellucci expects to miss three to four days. Dellucci has already missed time this spring with a bruised left leg and a bruised right elbow.
“That's the story of my spring,” Dellucci said.
Non-roster lefty reliever Ron Villone, unlikely to make the team, is still recovering from a strained left hamstring. He can throw off a mound but not sprint, so he cannot pitch in games because fielding would be a concern.
With Monday's victory, the D-Backs improved to 15-0 all-time in Cactus League games against the San Francisco Giants. Arizona also clinched its sixth straight winning spring.