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Fighting workout helps Buckner make D’backs

Citizen Staff Writer



Relief pitcher Billy Buckner changed his workout routine during the offseason, training with an Ultimate Fighting Championship friend.

It paid off, with Buckner being named to the Arizona Diamondbacks’ 25-man roster Tuesday.

Buckner, who gave up two earned runs in 3 1/2 innings Tuesday, wasn’t around to learn he made the roster. He exited Tucson Electric Park before the D’backs’ game with the Los Angeles Dodgers concluded. Arizona lost 10-0.

“I didn’t do any punching,” he said. “It got me into great shape. My legs are stronger than ever. I came in physically better than I have ever been. I came in nice and loose. I contribute that a lot to my strength.”

Buckner, recalled twice last season from Triple-A Tucson, was vying for a bullpen spot along with Leo Rosales and Bobby Korecky.

The bullpen is now set with Juan Gutierrez, Tony Peña, Yusmeiro Petit, Chad Qualls, Jon Rauch, Scott Schoeneweis, Doug Slaten and Buckner.

“I’ve seen a guy who has good stuff and isn’t afraid to compete,” said Arizona manager Bob Melvin of Buckner. “He had the tough role last year going up and down and pitching in games that we were behind.

“Whether it’s starting or coming in relief, he has a lot of attributes that would suggest he’s a good fit for us.”

Buckner probably secured his place on the roster with Tuesday’s outing. He threw 62 pitches, including 39 strikes, and scattered five hits.

“My body was getting tired, but my arm felt great,” Buckner said. “I wasn’t getting out front. I was leaving (the ball) up a little bit.”

Buckner had appeared in six games prior to his start against the Dodgers. His earned-run average was a respectable 2.84 in 12 1/2 innings.

Notable: Arizona’s Eric Byrnes was 2 for 5 with two doubles and two RBIs, and Felipe Lopez had three hits and scored two runs. . . . Buckner sailed along until the fourth when he gave up a homer on the first pitch to Casey Blake,followed by a double to Blake DeWitt, who later scored. . . . Arizona travels to Maryvale to face Milwaukee at 1:05 p.m. Wednesday.

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