TUCSON - When Randy Choate looks over his shoulder this spring, it is only to check his runners, not his job.
For the first time in his career, Choate appears entrenched on the openingday roster, the first lefthander out of a Diamondbacks bullpen that may hold just one.
It’s a nice change from the destructive pressure he sometimes felt while with the New York Yankees.
"With the Yankees, you were sure you were one bad outing away from being gone. For a young guy over there, that’s just how it goes,’’ said Choate, who spent parts of four seasons with the Yankees before joining the D-Backs the final week of 2004 spring training. "You know they are always out looking. That’s what sucks. You never feel any type of security, like I feel a little bit now for the next two years.’’
Choate signed a two-year $1.3 million contract in the offseason and is expected to be used as a situational lefthander this season after going 2-4 with a 4.62 ERA in 74 appearances with the D-Backs last year.
He has held left-handed hitters to a .256 batting average over the last three seasons; lefties were 3-for-28 (.107) against him in 2002.
Choate is the only lefthanded reliever on the 40-man roster, with lefties Jon Cannon, Shane Nance, Donovan Osborne and Kevin Tolar in camp as non-roster invitees.
Choate said he was always cautioned in past camps not to worry about the things he could not control "but with my personality, it just wasn’t that way,’’ he said. "It’s easy to say, but when you want to be on a team so bad, you think you have to perfect.’’
ON THE BUMP
Brad Halsey, Michael Gosling, Casey Daigle and Tony Pena — all candidates for the No. 5 spot in the rotation — were among the young pitchers who threw live batting practice for the first time this spring Friday.
"This is the guy (Halsey) who came in a pretty prominent trade (for Randy Johnson), and you can see why they were pretty high on him in New York,’’ D-Backs manager Bob Melvin said. "He has a nice little cutter. A lefthander who can pitch inside.’’
Of Pena, Melvin said, "His fastball is the thing that really catches your eye. It reminds you a little bit, and I’m not comparing them, of a Pedro Martinez, that type of a slinging (delivery), where the ball plays a little better than the actual velocity.’’
Shawn Estes will throw off a mound today, for the second time this spring, but the rest of the pitchers will have a day off before pitching batting practice Sunday. . . . Right-hander Jose Jimenez had his legal problems resolved and is expected in camp today, 10 days after the first workout, general manager Joe Garagiola Jr. said. . . . The D-Backs have agreed to contract terms with Reggie Abercrombie, Brian Bruney, Enrique Gonzalez, Josh Kroeger, Bill Murphy, Adam Peterson, Luis Terrero and Marland Williams.