Ziegler expects light load to benefit stamina

Ziegler expects light load to benefit stamina

TEMPE, Ariz. -- D-backs closer Brad Ziegler is scheduled to make his Spring Training debut on Saturday, more than a week after Cactus League games started.

It is not an injury that has kept Ziegler from pitching, but rather a calculated strategy to keep the right-hander fresh throughout the regular season.

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"Two years ago when we went to Australia, I threw a ton in spring," Ziegler said, referring to 2014, when the D-backs opened the regular season on March 22 in Australia. "I was gassed that year. Obviously, the whole season was kind of like a grind."

Ziegler also injured his left knee that year, an injury that he does not believe was caused by his fatigue.

However, it was because of the injury that Ziegler realized a lighter spring workload might be beneficial.

"Last year, because I was rehabbing my knee, I got a late start in spring and ended up only throwing five or six times in spring and felt great to start the season," said Ziegler, who was 30-for-32 in save situations last year. "I felt I got done what I needed to. My arm and body felt good, and I was basically able to stay fresh all year long."

Mike Butcher, hired as Arizona's pitching coach this offseason, agreed when Ziegler suggested a lighter workload again this spring.

Steve Gilbert is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @SteveGilbertMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.