Contracts won't determine D-backs rotation

Contracts won't determine D-backs rotation

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Kevin Towers did not leave much room for interpretation when asked if contract status would play a role in who wins the fourth and fifth spots in the rotation.

"No," Towers said. "Not at all."

Zach Duke, Armando Galarraga, Aaron Heilman and Barry Enright are the main contenders for the spots.

Duke is owed $4.25 million whether he makes the team or not, while Galarraga has a contract for $2.3 million, though the D-backs can get away with only paying a prorated portion of that if they release him at varying points during the spring.

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Heilman, meanwhile could easily slide into the bullpen, where he has pitched for the past five seasons, and Enright still has Minor League options.

To Towers and manager Kirk Gibson those factors will not be an issue in picking the best five starters.

Of course, the criteria for deciding who pitches best is subjective and Towers said it will be based on more than what the stat sheet says at the end of March.

"I don't put a lot into the numbers," Towers said. "I think you can really get fooled in Spring Training."

Instead, he will look at how pitchers command the strike zone, the amount of quality strikes they throw, how their secondary pitches look and how they handle themselves in adverse situations.

For hitters, he's focused on whether or not they take a good approach at the plate, if they run the bases properly and whether or not they do the little things correctly.

During his 14 years as GM for the Padres, Towers was known for making shrewd pickups or trades during Spring Training. One year he nabbed relievers Edward Mujica and Luke Gregorson. This year, though, he sounds pretty content with what he already has.

"I don't know if we're really going to be looking for that much help outside the organization," he said. "I think that what we have here in camp should be sufficient unless we have an injury. If anything, we might have an excess or some depth in certain areas."

If that excess remains, the D-backs could end up dealing some of it away for Minor Leaguers.

"I would imagine our pro scouts spending more time on the Minor League fields [this spring]," Towers said.

Speaking of Minor Leaguers, Towers has been impressed with what he's seen from some of the club's younger players like A.J. Pollock, Paul Goldschmidt and Matt Davidson.

"A lot of times the young kids are kind of in awe when they're facing big league players, and our kids have done a great job, I think, holding their own and contributing and performing very well," Towers said.

Steve Gilbert is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Inside the D-backs, and follow him on Twitter @dbackswriter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.