Notes: Gutierrez impresses as starter

Notes: Gutierrez impresses as starter

TUCSON, Ariz. -- Juan Gutierrez, acquired in the offseason trade with the Houston Astros for closer Jose Valverde, was very impressive in his first start of the spring on Wednesday against the Chicago Cubs.

The 6-foot-3 right-hander used a powerful fastball that topped out around 94 mph to strike out three of the minimum six batters that he faced in two scoreless innings of work.

"I was really impressed with Gutierrez today," Arizona manager Bob Melvin said. "Last time out, he probably threw too many breaking balls and he stayed with his fastball today."

Gutierrez's outing on Wednesday was a welcome sight after he got roughed up in his first spring appearance on Saturday against the White Sox. In that game, Gutierrez allowed three runs in one inning of relief duty. He allowed five hits, walked a batter and hit a batter, as well.

Gutierrez did arrive in camp a few days late, after clearing up some visa issues last week before returning from his native Venezuela, but Melvin doesn't think that had much effect on his first-outing struggles.

"I just think his pitch selection last time out wasn't that good," Melvin said.

Mixed results for Scherzer: Max Scherzer, the team's No. 1 pick in the 2006 First-Year Player Draft, allowed three earned runs, including a pair of solo homers, four hits and a wild pitch over two innings of work on Wednesday.

Still, he and Melvin don't think the day was a complete loss.

"It seems like every hit he's given up this year has been a home run," Melvin said. "... But Max was pretty impressive out there. A lot of good fastball hitters and fastball talents aren't getting good swings off him."

In the third inning, Scherzer left a hanging slider out over the plate against one of baseball's best-hitting pitchers, Carlos Zambrano, who hit one of those no-doubt home runs. Neither Chris Young nor Justin Upton gave chase to the ball as it sailed a good 30 feet past the right-center field wall.

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"Obviously they're putting good swings on the ball, and the mistakes are getting hit, but it's also a chance for me to learn," said the 23-year-old Scherzer. "If Zambrano strikes out on an 0-2 hanging slider, I don't learn anything from it. Now, with it being Spring Training, it's a good chance for me to learn from it."

Scherzer went 7-4 last year with a 2.78 ERA while striking out 46 in 20 starts at Class A Visalia and Double-A Mobile. In two spring appearances, he's posted an ERA of 9.00 and allowed three home runs in four innings of action.

Owings on pace for Saturday: Right-handed pitcher Micah Owings threw 35-40 pitches in a bullpen session on Wednesday and said that he feels he's on pace to pitch again on Saturday.

"I threw a bullpen session today and everything is feeling good," said Owings, who was scratched from Monday's start due to arm soreness.

"I wasn't really working on anything specific, just throwing my stuff," Owings said.

Game notes: Shortstop Stephen Drew was scratched from the lineup for the second straight day due to the flu. Augie Ojeda took Drew's place, going 0-3 at the plate. ... Alex Romero's two-run single in the bottom of the eighth that sparked the D-backs' rally on Wednesday brought a smile to his manager's face.

"This is a guy that was a guy that should have, or could have, been called up last year, but for whatever reason wasn't. He may have something to prove here this spring," Melvin said. "I'd be surprised if I didn't see him up in the big leagues at some point this year."

Up next: The Diamondbacks travel to Surprise, Ariz., on Thursday to play the Kansas City Royals at 1:05 MT. Right-hander Dan Haren makes his second start of the spring for Arizona, while Kansas City will go with right-hander Zack Greinke. Haren is scheduled to go three innings. Emilio Bonifacio was scratched from the lineup after being hit in the head by a pitch on Tuesday and Drew is penciled in to start at shortstop.

Geoff Grammer is a contributor to This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.