PHOENIX -- When A.J. Pollock reported to camp this spring, he knew the odds of him making the Opening Day roster as the club's fifth outfielder were slim. But after Adam Eaton suffered an elbow injury that landed him on the disabled list before the season even started, Pollock suddenly had an opportunity to prove himself.
Now six months later, that's exactly what the 25-year-old has done as he has stayed up with the big league team for the entire 2013 season, making his impact felt at the plate and even more so in the outfield.
"Coming into Spring Training, I wasn't sure it was going to happen, I was reading between the lines and I thought I was going to [Triple-A] Reno," Pollock said. "My goal was to just make some noise and hope I'd get called up at some point. It was pretty fortunate for me that a couple things happened and I was able to stick the whole year."
Pollock's most substantial contributions this year, of course, have come with him ranging in all directions to make plays in center field. According to FanGraphs, his ultimate zone rating -- a stat that factors in all aspects of a player's defensive prowess -- is second best in the Major Leagues at 18.2, trailing only Carlos Gomez of the Brewers.
"He's our best center fielder, he just goes and gets the ball," D-backs manager Kirk Gibson said. "He's a good player. We knew that when we drafted him, and he's been good everywhere he has went. He's got a great attitude and he's a sponge. He's not looking at learning tomorrow, he's looking at learning today."
Offensively, even though he is batting a middle-of-the-road .259, Pollock has been consistent throughout the season, which is fairly noteworthy for a player in his first full big league season who doesn't receive at-bats as consistently as he did in the Minors.
"You're forced to learn on the fly here," Pollock said. "If you don't make adjustments up here, it's going to show. It has been a learning experience for me because it's tough to know what the big leagues are like unless you're up here. In the Minor Leagues, you're never really in these situations where you're coming off the bench in big pinch-hit situations."
With a solid 2013 under his belt, Pollock is now aiming for bigger and better things next season.
"It's been a really great year, but I'm always going to look to get better," he said. "There's always something that can fire you up and make you want to prove yourself even more."
D-backs want to increase Putz's work in spring
PHOENIX -- In each of his last two Spring Trainings, D-backs reliever J.J. Putz has worked just 5 1/3 innings of Cactus League action. But after two injuries -- one fluky and one structural -- forced him to miss roughly half the season this year, the 36-year-old will have his spring workload ramped up come 2014 as the club tries to keep the veteran healthy.
"We'll take a little different attack in Spring Training -- he'll throw a little more," D-backs manager Kirk Gibson said. "Just trying to get more arm strength. I think in the past he was kind of in a different phase in his career where he didn't need to as much. It just seems like when he throws more, he gets stronger. So he'll be in more games and stuff before the season."
After saving 77 games and pitching more than 100 innings between 2011 and 2012, Putz has experienced a down year in 2013, appearing in just 36 games and losing the closer role to Brad Ziegler due to an elbow strain, a dislocated little finger and five blown saves in 11 chances. Still, with Putz's ERA this season at 2.35, Gibson believes the reliever can return to form next year and provide the D-backs with the stable veteran back-end arm they had grown accustomed to.
"There's no reason he can't," Gibson said. "He's on his way back. When he got hurt, he had thrown two days in a row and he had the best arm strength and stuff he had all year."
Developing Delgado learning to limit long balls
PHOENIX -- As Randall Delgado closes out his first season in a D-backs uniform with two more starts, the right-hander can look back and consider his 2013 campaign a successful one.
After losing out to Patrick Corbin in Spring Training for the final spot in the club's rotation, Delgado bounced back in the Minors and eventually earned himself a callup to Arizona, where has started 17 games and delivered quality outings -- at least six innings with three earned runs or fewer -- in 11 of them.
But for Delgado to take the next step in his development in 2014, there is one area in particular he'll have to clean up. The 23-year-old has served up a staggering 21 homers in his 17 starts -- 1.78 home runs per nine innings. That number ranks third worst in the Majors among pitchers with at least 100 innings in 2013.
"He's a young kid, he's still figuring it out and he's learning," D-backs manager Kirk Gibson said. "He just needs better pitch location. I think he's working to get more movement on his pitches, too."
Despite the home runs, Delgado has still managed to keep his ERA sub-4 this season, something that gives the D-backs good reason to believe the righty, who will face the Rockies in Friday's series opener at Coors Field, will only be that much better when he learns to better keep the ball in the park.
"He's strong, he's dedicated, and I've said this before, he's got a good future," Gibson said. "He's just finding out what he's got right now."
Tyler Emerick is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.