SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Arizona's Aaron Heilman and Seattle's Michael Pineda, both trying to crack the opening-day rotations, had strong outings Wednesday as a Diamondbacks split squad beat the Seattle Mariners 5-3.
Heilman, a longtime reliever who re-signed with Arizona with the understanding that he would get a shot at a starting job, struck out two in three perfect innings. He has allowed one hit in five scoreless innings this spring."Heilman was awesome," Diamondbacks manager Kirk Gibson said. "He was pounding the zone. He's certainly going for it. He was very sharp."So was Pineda. The top pitching prospect in Seattle's minor league system last season struck out one with no walks in two hitless innings in his first outing of the spring.Juan Miranda, a leading contender for the first base job, hit a two-run, opposite-field homer for Arizona.The Mariners had just one hit through seven innings before Matt Tuiasosopo drove in two runs with a single in the eighth.Heilman didn't want to make too big a deal out of his strong start."You can't always read too much into results, especially in spring training," he said. "The hitters are still getting going, the pitchers are usually ahead of hitters. I try to judge myself more on hitting spots and how I felt than the results. There's going to be a lot of days when you may feel good and may hit your spots and you don't get the results that you want. Then there are other days when you are all over the place and you do. The biggest thing for me is consistency."Heilman said he tried to talk Gibson into letting him pitch another inning."I was able to work on a lot of stuff," Heilman said. "I felt like I did a good job of staying ahead of hitters. I feel like the work that I put in in the offseason has got me where I need to be. The arm feels good, the body feels good."Pineda, a 6-foot-5, 22-year-old right-hander, had thrown a scoreless inning in an intrasquad game last Friday but this was his first Cactus League appearance. He went 11-4 with a 3.38 ERA in 25 starts for Double-A West Tenn and Triple-A Tacoma last season.Seattle manager Eric Wedge said he considers Pineda "in the middle of this from everything I saw today.""He threw comfortably," Wedge said. "He controlled his fastball and also his secondary pitches."Justin Upton had two doubles for Arizona. The first one came off Yoervis Medina. Miranda followed with his first home run of the spring.Miranda, who defected from Cuba in 2004, was acquired in a trade with the New York Yankees in the offseason. Competing with Brandon Allen and Russell Branyan for the first base job vacated when Adam LaRoche departed, Miranda is 2 for 8 this spring with four RBIs, two walks and one strikeout."He's impressive," Gibson said. "He got on top of that fastball. He's got power. He's played well."The first base competition is expected to be close throughout the spring."That's good," Gibson said. "That's what we want."