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D-backs have no plans to demote Putz

The SportsXchange

While several other teams have jockeyed with the closer position this season, the Diamondbacks plan to stick with J.J. Putz despite early-season inconsistencies.

"Oh, yeah; no question," D-backs manager Kirk Gibson said. "I just think he's the guy. He's our closer and nothing's changed. It's as simple as that."

Putz brings a strong leadership presence to the bullpen and the clubhouse, and he was among the D-backs' most valuable pieces in 2011, when he was 2-2 with a 2.17 ERA and converted a career-high 44 saves in 48 opportunities while helping the D-backs to the NL West title.

It has not been as much of a straight line this season.

Putz has converted 9-of-12 save chances, but the failures have been dramatic.

Colorado's Todd Helton and Washington's Ian Desmond hit two-out, two-run walk-off home runs in the ninth inning, and the Dodgers' Ivan De Jesus hit a two-out, two-run double in the ninth inning for an 8-7 victory Tuesday, a game the D-backs twice led by five runs.

Miami took the closer job away from Heath Bell before reinstating him and the Angels removed Jordan Walden after a rocky start, but Gibson was not about to single out one cause for the D-backs' 20-25 start, even if Putz is 0-3 with a 7.20 ERA in 16 appearances.

"It's not just J.J," Gibson said. "You could look around to some of the games we've lost that we thought we should have won. You could go around to every position on the field. Not just pitching. You could blame the hitting. We haven't picked it up. We've made base running errors.

"We just haven't put it together up to this point."

Putz and pitching coach Charles Nagy spent time breaking down film and before the D-backs' previous trip, and Putz tweaked his delivery, focusing on not getting too far over the rubber. He converted three saves in four days on the trip before stumbling Tuesday.

"He righted some mechanical stuff that made him more comfortable on the mound," Nagy said. "He's been throwing the ball better, (Tuesday) night aside. He made a couple of bad pitches, and that is going to happen over the course of a year."

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