Notes: Webb likely to start

Notes: Webb likely to start

TUCSON, Ariz. -- Brandon Webb will be the likely starter when the D-backs open Cactus League action next Thursday against the White Sox.

"There's a good chance," D-backs manager Bob Melvin said when asked about Webb starting. "[A] pretty good chance."

Webb, the defending National League Cy Young Award winner, is also slated to start the regular-season opener on April 2 in Colorado.

With Edgar and Enrique Gonzalez along with Dustin Nippert, Dana Eveland, Micah Owings and Evan MacLane all in the running for the fifth spot in the rotation, it will be a challenge for the D-backs to get each of them enough innings.

"We're going to have to do a lot of piggybacking, probably," Melvin said, referring to having one of the starters follow another into a game.

The D-backs might also play some "B" games against the White Sox as they've done in years past. That would allow some of the starters competing for a spot a chance to get their innings in. More likely, though, is a scenario where an established guy like Webb would pitch in a "B" game to avoid facing a divisional opponent while also freeing up innings in a regular game for those in competition for a spot.

Every little bit helps: Robby Hammock is in a tough fight for one of the final spots on the roster. His ability to play six positions is his strongest selling point, but it doesn't hurt that he has a good working relationship with Randy Johnson.

Hammock, you might recall, was behind the plate on May 18 when Johnson threw a perfect game against the Braves in Atlanta and the two seemed to often be on the same page.

"It doesn't hurt," Melvin said. "It's not something that I think is going to be the deciding factor, but whenever you have history with somebody like that especially -- that's some serious history -- it certainly doesn't play against him."

Moving up: The D-backs promoted Junior Noboa to special assistant to the general manager, Latin American operations.

Noboa had been the team's director of Latin American operations since October of 2003 and he was the organization's first international hire in August of 1995.

Noboa was cited as one of the main factors in Jailen Peguero's decision to sign with the D-backs this past offseason. Highly sought after by many teams, the hard-throwing right-hander has been impressive thus far in camp.

"Junior's been amazing," GM Josh Byrnes said.

All smiles: Jay Bell, who spent the past two seasons as the team's bench coach, is enjoying his new role as special advisor to Melvin.

During the regular season, Bell will work at times with the team's infielders during some home games, which allows him to avoid having to go on the road and spend a great deal of time away from his family.

"I enjoy the role because it gives me the opportunity to come out here and hang out with these guys and make a little bit of an impact and still be with my family," said Bell, who has three children. "It gives me the freedom to coach [12-year-old] Brantley's Little League team and I'm really looking forward to it."

Looking good: Melvin said he was impressed with the bullpen sessions by Casey Daigle and Doug Slaten on Tuesday.

Eveland, a left-hander who was acquired from the Brewers in the trade that sent Johnny Estrada to Milwaukee, also caught his eye.

"I didn't realize Eveland's breaking balls were as sharp as they were," Melvin said. "Both curve and slider. This is a guy that we felt was a key guy in that trade. There were a lot of teams asking about him. You look at his Minor League numbers, he's got some tremendous Minor League numbers."

Melvin said that Eveland is being looked at initially as a starter, but that "there's a couple of ways he could fit."

Promotions: The D-backs this week unveiled their 2007 promotional schedule -- the largest in team history.

There will be giveaways at all Saturday and Sunday games at Chase Field, highlighted by six bobblehead promotions featuring Webb, Orlando Hudson, Johnson, Carlos Quentin, Conor Jackson and Mark Grace. New this year are collectible three-inch McFarlane Toys action figures of Webb, Jackson, Stephen Drew and Livan Hernandez.

Sign here: The D-backs have 25 players with zero to three years of Major League experience in camp that have to be signed or have their contracts renewed before a Major League Baseball deadline of March 11.

Steve Gilbert is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.