Arizona Diamondbacks still tinkering with Kim as a starter

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TUCSON, Ariz. -- Arizona Diamondback pitcher Byung-Hyun Kim, who spent his first two seasons with the team as their primary closer, made his second start of spring training on Thursday against the Anaheim Angels. In a somewhat shocking comment, manager Bob Brenly indicated before the season that he would like to use Kim as a starter.

After giving up three runs on four hits in his first start this spring, it didn't look like such a good idea. Now after a much better second start against Anaheim, Brenly's idea isn't looking too bad.

"He was fantastic today," Brenly said. "He has always been a very quick learner. We let him know what he needed to work on from the last time. He was much more efficient. That's what we envision him doing all season for us."

Kim only gave up one hit in four innings in Arizona's 8-3 loss to the Angels at Tucson Electric Park. As good as he was, though, Kim still didn't pick up the win. Miguel Batista, who replaced him in the fifth with a 2-0 lead, gave up two runs in the sixth. Kim and Armando Reynoso are battling for the fifth spot in the rotation.

"I was much more comfortable than the last outing because I'm focusing more," said Kim, who has already recorded a franchise record 70 saves in three seasons with Arizona. "I am trying not to think too much."

That's probably the best thing for Kim, who earned a spot on the 2002 National League All-Star team as a closer. The former Korean National team member is most remembered for his two blown saves Game 4 and Game 5 of the 2001 World Series. With Arizona in position to clinch the series against the New York Yankees, Kim gave up game-ending home runs in both games before the Diamondbacks eventually won in Game 7.

Now that Kim is flirting with a spot in the rotation, Matt Mantei, who played second fiddle to Kim as a closer the last two seasons, should become Arizona's closer.

"It's just about concentration but it's also feeling and adjusting to the real game," said Kim, whose four innings was his longest outing in a major league game. "I'm feeling better and better."

Reynoso picked up the loss after allowing six runs on five hits in just 2/3 inning.



Arizona third baseman Matt Williams missed his second straight game because of the flu on Thursday. He sat out Arizona's loss to Anaheim and also missed split squad games against San Francisco and the Chicago White Sox on Wednesday. He is expected to be back in the lineup when Arizona plays at the Chicago Cubs today in Mesa. The 1986 Carson High graduate has gone 1-for-11 at the plate this spring (.091). He is battling Craig Counsell for the every day job at third base. Counsell, though, is batting just 167. He got his first and only hit in a 4-2 win over San Francisco on Wednesday in Tucson.


Douglas graduate and Chicago Cub starter Shawn Estes is scheduled to make his second spring start today against Arizona. Estes, who pitched one inning and gave up two hits in his first start, will go up against the Diamondbacks' Randy Johnson. Johnson is one of five pitchers who lead the Cactus League with an ERA of 0.00. He was pitched a combined five innings in his two starts with five strikeouts.


Dusty Bergman, who hasn't pitched more than an inning in his first two appearances, faced more of the same on Wednesday. Again, though, he had a solid outing.

Bergman pitched one inning, striking out one and walking another and didn't give up a hit in the Anaheim Angels' 7-5 loss to Seattle on Wednesday. The 1996 Carson High graduate has now pitched 2 1/3 innings this spring and has only given up one hit.


With last week's uncharacteristically cold and rainy weather finally out of the state, Arizona's game against Anaheim drew 7,186 fans on Thursday under clear skies and a game-time temperature in the 70s. It was the largest crowd this spring at the four-year old Tucson Electric Park. The Diamondbacks had been only averaging around 3,000.


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