Notes: Preaching patience at the plate

Notes: Preaching patience at the plate

PEORIA, Ariz. -- For the most part, Spring Training numbers should be taken about as seriously as a Jay Leno monologue, but sometimes they can show trends. And so far, first-year hitting coach Kevin Seitzer likes what he sees.

Heading into Tuesday night's game with the Padres, the D-backs were tied with the Red Sox and Cardinals for the Major League lead in walks this spring with 33. And both of those teams have played seven games compared to Arizona's six.

"It's phenomenal because what it tells me is that the hitters are putting themselves in better counts and laying off bad pitches," Seitzer said.

Seitzer has emphasized a hitting approach that has the batters focused on the middle of the plate away rather than worrying about turning on the inside pitch. By doing that, their front shoulder does not fly open and the bat head stays in the hitting zone longer.

"If you ask hitters how many times something good happens when they put that inside pitch in play, you hear maybe one out of eight, one out of nine times," Seitzer said. "So what we're doing is letting that go and focusing on the other two-thirds."

Payday: Outfielder Scott Hairston will make $389,000 in the contract he signed recently, while first baseman Conor Jackson will get $392,000 and Chris Snyder $400,000.

Just so-so: Brandon Webb worked three innings and allowed two runs on three hits and walked three against the Padres. The right-hander came within an out of getting out of things unscathed, but he couldn't put away Adrian Gonzalez nor Khalil Greene in the first with runners on.

"Mechanically, I think I was rushing myself a little bit, getting on the side of the ball, working around it and getting more lateral movement instead of downward on the sinker," Webb said. "Walking three guys, I wasn't real happy about, but it's Spring Training. We're just trying to get our mechanics and legs, and just trying to go out there and throw strikes. I got my work in."

Strides: When evaluating players during the spring, the staff looks at a variety of factors, not just what the box score says.

For instance, Dustin Nippert, who is competing for the No. 5 spot in the rotation, allowed two unearned runs on two hits in a pair of innings on Sunday night. But manager Bob Melvin saw other things that impressed him, like the fact that the right-hander threw some good changeups and some tighter curveballs for strikes and was quicker to the plate -- three things that are very important for his development.

"I think it was a good first step for him," Melvin said. "We were impressed by the way he made the adjustments that we feel like he needs to make."

It's still early in camp, but both pitching coach Bryan Price and Bob Melvin have said the decision on the final spots will be difficult, but just because someone gets sent to Triple-A to start the year, it doesn't mean he'll be there all season.

"For the guys that don't make our club, what you don't want to lose is the enthusiasm for the opportunity," Price said. "I think there is going to be opportunity here, for sure. Every time these guys pitch, it's a chance to impress somebody. Not just our organization but other organizations. It's hard to be patient as a young person, we all went through that. But some of these guys, if they're patient, they're going to find they'll have really nice careers here with this organization."

Chase Challenge: The Arizona Diamondbacks announced today that tickets for the second annual Challenge at Chase between Arizona State University and the University of Arizona baseball teams are now on sale. The non-conference game will take place March 28 at 6:40 p.m. at Chase Field.

Proceeds from the game will go toward the building or refurbishing of youth baseball and softball fields. These fields will be located throughout Arizona, will feature the logos of the D-backs and the two universities and will host youth clinics and camps in the future.

Up next: The D-backs take on the Rangers on Wednesday afternoon in Surprise, Ariz. at 1:05 p.m. Livan Hernandez will get the start for Arizona, while John Koronka will get the nod for Texas.

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