Notes: Webb's curve rounding into form
D-backs make first spring cuts; Johnson set to start on Monday
TUCSON, Ariz. -- Brandon Webb is known for his sinker, but the right-hander is at his best when he also has his curve and changeup working.
In his third start of the spring, Webb focused on getting a feel for his curve and was encouraged by the results even if he did allow four runs over four innings against the Mariners on Sunday.
"Today it felt a lot better," Webb said. "I threw a few more and got a couple of outs on them. One was a popout, one was a groundout to third base. I yanked a couple, but overall felt a lot better than I did the last time. I hadn't thrown it a whole bunch and I wanted to make sure I utilized those in a game."
Webb struck out five and did not walk a batter.
"He got a strikeout with a man on third and two outs. He did get a few balls up, but we're not all that concerned with him. We just want to make sure we get our work in with him," D-backs manager Bob Melvin said.
Tracy update: Infielder Chad Tracy said he expects to stop taking his blood-thinner medication on Friday, which could put him in line to take live batting practice for the first time around March 18.
Tracy had microfracture surgery on his right knee toward the end of last season and has been on blood-thinning medication since a blood clot developed below the knee in November.
Cuts: The D-backs reassigned nine players to Minor League camp. Pitchers Hector Ambriz, Brooks Brown Barry Enright, Matt Green, Wes Roemer and Mark Rosen were joined by infielder Jamie D'Antona, catcher Frank Curreri and outfielder Chris Rahl.
Ambriz, Enright and Roemer were all impressive in their taste of big league camp.
"All three of those guys are guys we feel could be quick movers," Melvin said. "Guys who pitched at big-time college programs and have shown the mental capacity to handle this level and have good stuff on top of it. It seems like the kids who come out of those programs can handle the bright lights better and process things at this level quicker, even if it's their first look at big league camp."
Speaking of cuts: Sunday marked the first time that outfielder Jeff Salazar has escaped the first round of spring cuts during his career.
Last year, he thought he had a shot at making the Rockies roster, but was reassigned to Minor League camp in the first group of cuts and later was designated for assignment, which led to him being claimed by the D-backs.
Salazar, expected to be the club's fourth outfielder this year, obviously was not in jeopardy of being cut, but breathed a sigh of relief nonetheless.
"Let me just get past that first cut once and I'll feel like I've made an advancement in my career," he said with a smile earlier this spring. "I'm looking forward to that moment. But until I make that cut and I get that envelope with that week's meal money and I know that I'm sticking around ... But then of course there's the following week, so we'll have to see."
Game notes: The D-backs collected 11 hits against the Mariners in a 10-7 loss, the team's fourth setback in its last five games.
"It seemed like the energy level was a little better today. We had some good at-bats across the board," Melvin said. "Just feels like we played a little bit better today. The last three days, less the game that was here that was 10-0, it didn't seem like we had a lot of energy where we came out today and put together some good at-bats. We just couldn't stop them."
Sign here: The D-backs announced that they agreed to terms with 23 of their unsigned players and renewed the contracts of two others.
Those that agreed to terms were pitchers Billy Buckner, Emiliano Fruto, Edgar Gonzalez, Juan Gutierrez, Brandon Medders, Bill Murphy, Dustin Nippert, Micah Owings, Jailen Peguero, Yusmeiro Petit, Leo Rosales, Doug Slaten and Esmerling Vasquez; catchers Wilkin Castillo, Robby Hammock and Miguel Montero; infielders Emilio Bonifacio, Javier Brito, Conor Jackson and Mark Reynolds; outfielders Alex Romero, Justin Upton and Salazar.
The D-backs renewed the contracts of right-hander Tony Pena and outfielder Chris Young.
Pena and Young were the first players to be renewed by the club since the spring 2006, when Medders and Jose Valverde had their contracts renewed. The team used to have a policy of reducing the salary of a player that is renewed rather than signed, but no longer do so.
Up next: Randy Johnson will make his Cactus League debut Monday as the D-backs take on the Rockies at 1:05 p.m. MST at Hi Corbett Field. Robby Hammock, who caught Johnson's perfect game for Arizona in 2004, will get the start behind the plate. Johnson, who had his second back surgery in as many years last summer, made his final appearance of the 2007 season on June 28.
In an effort to reduce the strain put on his back, the D-backs have not had Johnson take any batting practice yet this spring, so they asked the Rockies if they could use a designated hitter in the game.
"They were nice enough to oblige," Melvin said.
Steve Gilbert is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.