DENVER -- D-backs reliever J.J. Putz maintained throughout the spring that he felt better than his subpar numbers indicated.
So far this season, the right-hander's faith in himself seems to be well placed.
Through his first three appearances of the regular season, Putz had not allowed a hit in 2 1/3 innings.
"My arm feels great," Putz said. "It's a matter of repeating my mechanics and being able to repeat pitches."
Putz's velocity is not what it has been in the past, but it is up from where it was at times during the spring. The key, as it is with every pitcher, is location, and so far that's been good for him.
D-backs general manager Kevin Towers has said he thinks the club will use Putz as their eighth-inning setup man for closer Addison Reed.
"I think his velocity is a little bit better," Towers said. "I think his command has been better than it was early in the spring. He's got the good split. He's a veteran. If his location is on and he's spotting his pitches and with his split, he can get middle-of-the-order hitters out."
While he has tweaked his mechanics, Putz has not changed his approach.
"Clearly, I don't throw as hard as I did back five years ago," he said. "But I think I'm the same kind of pitcher. I still go after guys. I try to get ahead and put them away with my split."
Towers expresses belief in early turnaround
DENVER -- The D-backs are off to a disappointing start record-wise this year, but the man who put them together has showed no lack of faith.
"I still believe in these guys," Arizona general manager Kevin Towers said. "I think a really good group of players. We're going to get in sync and put it all together. All we need to do is go out and win two or three games in a row and exhale a little bit. We haven't played very good baseball. That's pretty evident. We haven't been able to put two and two together. The games that we swing the bats well, we don't have pitching. We get pitching performances; we're not swinging the bats."
Ball-strike calls that went against the D-backs led to opposing rallies by San Francisco in two games, but Towers bristled when that was offered to him as a mitigating factor in the 1-6 start.
"That's going to happen," he said. "But that's not an excuse. You have to go out and get the next guy. To me, as a group we need to stop making excuses. We have to go out and get the job done and not blame the umpires or a bad hop. To me, that can become contagious and bad. It's too good a group of guys to use excuses this early in the season."
While no one seems to be panicking in or around the clubhouse, the team realizes that a turnaround must come sooner rather than later.
"It's a rough start, and hopefully we don't dig ourselves too big of a hole," Towers said.
Top prospect Bradley among young arms in waiting
DENVER -- The D-backs' Minor League teams began their regular seasons recently, and Arizona has some starting pitching options there if it needs them.
Top club prospect Archie Bradley is of course the one who most fans think of, but general manager Kevin Towers also mentioned Bo Schultz and Mike Bolsinger as candidates who could come up if the D-backs were in need of a starter.
Bradley and Schultz were late cuts from the roster this spring and have yet to open their Minor League campaigns.
Bolsinger, who was a non-roster invite to spring camp, has made one start this year and tossed 6 2/3 scoreless innings.
"I've always liked him," Towers said of Bolsinger. "I know nobody talks about him, but every time I've seen him -- in Double-A or Triple-A -- I've seen him probably five or six times, and I've never seen a bad start. He just stays off the barrel. We told him that when we sent him down, you never hear his name, nobody writes about him, but we know what you're doing and you're on our radar screen."
The D-backs also have relief options at Double-A Mobile in Jake Barrett and Matt Stites, who were both in big league camp this spring.
The bullpen has struggled this year, but Towers said it was too soon to be thinking about making any changes there.
"I think we're just trying to get guys in slots," he said, referring to set roles. "We'll stick with what we have. What would really help is if we get a starter who goes six or seven innings a couple of days in a row."
• Third baseman Martin Prado was back in the lineup Saturday after being forced to leave Friday's game with a laceration on his left index finger.
• Towers said the club claimed Roger Kieschnick off waivers from the Giants on Friday to bolster their outfield depth at Triple-A Reno.
"Bill Gayton, one of my scouts, has always liked him," Towers said. "He said he reminds him of kind of a young [Nate] Schierholtz, who the Giants had at one time. It's left-handed power, a plus defender, plus arm. We're a little thin in the outfield."
• D-backs manager Kirk Gibson said he knew how to answer when he was asked whether the Opening Series in Australia affected his team.
"I mean how would you know?" he said. "The Dodgers are 4-2. They went there. We just haven't pitched good enough up to this point. We're really one or two in a row good starts away by a starting pitcher getting turned around."
Steve Gilbert is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Inside the D-backs, and follow him on Twitter @SteveGilbertMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.