SURPRISE, Ariz. (AP) - J.J. Putz and Aaron Heilman are trying to take advantage of a fresh start with the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Putz worked a perfect fourth inning, while Heilman allowed five runs (three earned) in three innings Monday and a Diamondbacks split squad rallied for an 8-6 victory over a Kansas City Royals split squad.
The teams combined for seven home runs. Juan Mirando, Konrad Schmidt, A.J. Pollock and Ryan Wheeler homered for Arizona. Pollock and Wheeler hit back-to-back homers in a four-run ninth off Royals rookie right-hander Kevin Pucetas.
Melky Cabrera, Kila Ka'aihue and Clint Robinson homered for the Royals. Ka'aihue hit a three-run shot, giving him a team-leading eight RBIs.
``The wind was howling out there, anything in the air was going out of the park,' Royals manager Ned Yost said. ``It's tough day to judge. Kila's ball was not wind blown. He absolutely smoked it. Melky's ball was crushed, but every other ball that went out was wind aided.'
Putz was a dominant closer for Seattle, saving 76 games in 2006-07, but has only five saves the past two years with the Chicago White Sox and New York Mets, spending time on the disabled list with knee and elbow injuries.
``JJ was great,' Diamondbacks manager Kirk Gibson said. ``He threw the ball good. It's good to have him on the mound. It was a clean inning.'
The Diamondbacks signed Putz to be their closer after blowing 24 saves last season.
In his spring training debut, he retired the Royals on nine pitches, getting three ground ball outs, two to third baseman Geoff Blum.
``It felt good,' Putz said. ``I got loose really well. We were able to get some efficient outs, get the ball on the ground and let the defense work. I told Blumy I was going to get him some work and I did. It is definitely nice to get the first one out of the way.
``Right now it's just about going out and working on pitches you want to in spring training. Obviously, the biggest thing is working on fastball command and being able to put it on both sides of the plate.'
Heilman made 25 starts for the Mets early in his career, but none since 2005. He is being looked at as a rotation candidate in spring training.
``His ball was right out over the plate,' Gibson said. ``He didn't get it where he wanted to. He threw the ball good, but the ball was up more than normal. He didn't seem to have his sinker and I know he didn't have his good changeup.'
The strong wind blowing out to right-center and three errors in the first three innings didn't help Heilman.
``You try not to pay too much attention to it,' Heilman said of the wind. ``You keep the ball down and you don't have to worry about it. The pitches I got hurt on were up in the zone. You don't miss up and it doesn't pay a huge factor into it.
``I felt all right. I certainly didn't have the best stuff. I was rushing a little bit and left some pitches over the middle of the plate and got hurt with them. You try to battle through it and try to make adjustments. Unfortunately, I didn't make the adjustments soon enough. It's one outing, You learn from it and move on and focus on the getting ready for the next time and hopefully I'll have a little better results.'
Note: Royals shortstop Joaquin Arias was pulled after two innings with a hamstring injury. Yost said he hurt it while trying to stretch a single into a double in the second inning.
The Associated Press News Service
The Associated Press
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