PHOENIX -- It had been three full seasons in between Major League appearances for D-backs left-hander Ryan Rowland-Smith. And after pitching the ninth inning in relief Wednesday night against the Giants, Rowland-Smith said it was worth the wait.
"It went well; I was a little nervous," Rowland-Smith said Thursday only hours before the two teams concluded their four-game Opening Series at Chase Field. "I'm always nervous the first time out there for the season. You're trying to get the monkey off your back. The fact that it's been three years was kind of weird. But once I settled in, I was just trying to make pitches."
Rowland Smith last threw in a big league game as a member of the Mariners against the A's on Oct. 2, 2010. Since then, he's had to overcome some injuries and circumstances to get back on the mound in the Major Leagues.
At this juncture, Rowland-Smith was the big beneficiary of the D-backs' decision to carry a 13-man pitching staff this early in the season. That may change when Cody Ross finishes his Minor League rehab from hip surgery. The outfielder left for a stint at Triple-A Reno on Thursday.
"I feel great," Ross said Wednesday night. "I have no idea how long I will be there. They haven't told me."
D-backs manager Kirk Gibson said Ross will have two days on and one off as he begins to round back into baseball shape after last season's horrific right hip injury.
Meanwhile, Rowland-Smith is trying to take advantage of the situation.
"I had injuries, but I don't know whether they kept me out of the big leagues or not," said Rowland-Smith, who allowed a single, walked one and whiffed one in his one inning of work against the Giants. "I got hit in the hand trying to bunt one year. I hurt my back one year. And then last year I had an appendectomy. I was having a great year, so that was a real shame. I was in the Minor Leagues with the Red Sox.
"So little things like that, a couple of things outside of my control, but otherwise when you're in a situation like I was the last couple of years, you have to be stellar to get a chance. It's timing or situations."
Bees cause short delay in Giants-D-backs game
PHOENIX -- A swarm of bees in center field halted Thursday's game between the D-backs and Giants one batter into the first inning at Chase Field.
Giants leadoff hitter Angel Pagan lifted a fly ball toward the swarm on the warning track that was hauled down by D-backs center fielder A.J. Pollock, who high-tailed it back to the middle of the outfield after backtracking to make the catch.
Pollock swatted away the bees as he one-handed the ball.
"Now that's focus and concentration right there," D-backs analyst Bob Brenly said while describing the play on the team's telecast.
With Gregor Blanco at bat, plate umpire Pat Hoberg stopped the game as D-backs manager Kirk Gibson came out of the dugout to speak to the group of umpires, including crew chief Tom Hallion, who came in from first base.
Hallion went out to short center where the D-backs' three outfielders had gathered to impart some wisdom to Pollock, and the game resumed. The Giants eventually won, 8-5, behind a five-run eighth inning.
"I could see Pollack was uncomfortable," Gibson said. "You could see the bees moving over. In fact, the fly ball Pagan hit was basically right into the bees. I think the last thing you want do with the bees is disrupt them, get them ticked off. They seem to be OK if you let them settle. We've seen a lot of them between here and Salt River [Fields]. We just wanted to wait until they move out a little bit. So [the umpires] were fine with that."
During the several-minute delay, the D-backs played the songs "Let It Be," and "Don't Worry, Be Happy" over the public-address system.
D-backs planning to use Hudson as reliever
PHOENIX -- The D-backs have four pitchers in various stages of their recovery from Tommy John ligament replacement surgery -- Patrick Corbin, David Hernandez, Matt Reynolds and Daniel Hudson.
Corbin had surgery last month and his left arm is in a sling. Hernandez underwent surgery Monday and is not yet back with the team. Reynolds and Hudson are actively rehabbing.
Before there was Corbin, there was Hudson, a 16-game winner in 2011, who hasn't pitched since midway through 2012 and is recovering from his second Tommy John surgery since then.
This time, though, Hudson's days as a starter might be over.
"I think we would not do that," D-backs manager Kirk Gibson said this week about a future role for Hudson. "It probably would be more in the bullpen."
Hudson is back on the mound and has thrown three bullpen sessions in this phase of his rehab. The plan is to have him throw bullpens on Tuesdays and Fridays and long toss on interim days for the foreseeable future. The anniversary date of his last surgery is June 18, only days after he made his one Minor League rehab start last year. It's a one-year to 18-month recovery time from the date of the surgery.
"There's no reason to rush," Hudson said. "This time we're going to take it easy. I'm feeling really good."
Gibson said Hudson is right on schedule.
"He threw his second or third bullpen the other day and was just awesome," Gibson said. "We're looking at right around a July return, something like that, either June or July if everything goes good."
D-backs committed to keeping Montero fresh
PHOENIX -- Despite his competitive inclinations, D-backs manager Kirk Gibson rested catcher Miguel Montero, who was subbed in the starting lineup by Tuffy Gosewisch for Thursday afternoon's day game after a night game against the Giants at Chase Field.
Montero missed more than a month last year with back problems after Gibson played him incessantly during the first half of the season. At the same time, the Giants rested catcher Buster Posey, starting backup Hector Sanchez.
"It's kind of hard to do because [Montero's] our guy," Gibson said before the closer of the four-game Opening Series. "But we said we were going to do it and it should go a long way for him. You could always bring him off the bench."
Gibson said he expected to start Montero in all three games of this weekend's series against the Rockies in Denver, beginning Friday with their home opener at Coors Field.
Montero played in 116 games last year after 140 in 2011 and 141 in 2012. He batted .230 with 11 homers and 42 RBIs, a big dip from his 88 RBIs in 2012. The D-backs are trying to find a way this year of keeping the 30-year-old Montero both healthy and productive.
"Anybody can get beaten down, but catching is a very demanding job," Gibson said. "I think that he's not getting younger, he's getting older. He wants to catch a lot of innings. It's kind of a fine line because when you catch more you get better at it, you get a better feel for what [a pitcher] should throw. Like this would be his fourth game against the Giants. So he's got a real good idea of what their hitters are doing, how to get them out.
"But at the same time, all that playing can contribute to him breaking down. He went through a streak before last year of catching more innings than any catcher in the game. We just know he can't keep that pace up. We made an investment in him as an organization and you want to preserve that."
Barry M. Bloom is national reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, Boomskie on Baseball. Follow @boomskie on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.