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Important pitching decisions loom

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If the main event in camp is likely the competition between Chris Owings and
Didi Gregorius for the right to start at shortstop, the undercard should be
equally interesting.

That would be positioning for spots on the pitching staff.

As spring training moves forwards, pundits are already speculating not only on
the composition of the staff but also the Opening Day starter against the
Dodgers in Australia.

Though Brandon McCarthy started the spring opener this past Wednesday against
the Dodgers at Salt River, starters in this game are usually not the Opening Day
starter. That honor went to Ian Kennedy the last three seasons and now the
native of Huntington Breach, Calif. is in there Padres rotation.

If Diamondbacks' general manager Kevin Towers continues to be as bold and
certain relative to his reputation, then he should be in a position to address
certain issues.

And conclude with hard but possibly unpopular decisions.

Towers likes to build his pitching staff from the back end of the bullpen. From
that perspective, he could have four possible closers. Through injury last
season, J. J. Putz lost his spot as the closer and whe. Heath Bell proved to be
ineffective, Brad Ziegler, beginning with a save against the mets in New York on
July 4, closed for h second half oft he season.

Now, Towers traded for closer Addison Reed in an off-season deal with the White
Sox and Reed is "penciled in" as the likely Opening Day closer. That puts Putz
in a precarious spot and Ziegler returns to his effective role as a ground ball
pitcher I'm the seventh or eighth inning.

Also, enter David Hernandez.

After exiled to Triple-A Reno in August, Hernandez returned to the Diamondbacks
as a different pitcher. In September, he posted a 0.64 ERA and served notice
he's a different pitcher.

This spring, Hernandez showed up lighter in weight and more determined to carry
on what he stated last September. Should Reed not develop and Putz ineffective,
Hernandez could take the ball from manager Kirk Gibson in a closer situation.

Regarding short relievers, this could put Will Harris on the bubble. Then again,
Towers could make some hard decisions relative to Reed, Putz and Hernandez.

Another pitcher facing an uncertain future with Arizona is Randall Delgado.

As a starter last season, that job appears taken by Bronson Arroyo and Delgado
is now pushing for the job of "long reliever."

That's the job currently held by Josh Collmenter and given his effectiveness
over the past few seasons, he does not appear to be going anyway any time soon.
In fact, the Diamondbacks showed confidence in Collmenter by signing the
Michigan native to a new two-year in there recent off-season.

What appears to be the current challenge for new pitching Mike Harkey and
pitching consultant Dave Duncan is getting more wins out of eventually-named starters.

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