KANSAS CITY -- D-backs outfielder Justin Upton has had slow starts before, very recently, as a matter of fact.
Upton was hitting just .240 on May 22, 2011. But he managed to finish the season strong. Upton made the National League All-Star team, won a Silver Slugger Award and finished fourth in the National League MVP Award voting.
Baseball players say that it's not how you start, it's how you finish. They say it a lot. And in Upton's case, there's truth to that statement.
Well, after another slow start in 2012, it looks like Upton might be heating up. Since May 14, the right fielder was hitting .294 with a .478 on-base percentage entering Saturday's game against the Royals.
Upton also had walked six times and struck out just three, clubbing one home run, picking up four RBIs and scoring five times. On Friday night against the Royals, Upton went 2-for-3 with a walk and scored three runs in the D-backs' 6-4 win.
"I'm seeing the ball pretty decent the last couple games," Upton said. "It's still a work in progress, but the season's a process. Sometimes you start hot, sometimes you start cold, but you stick to your routine and should be fine."
As for the increased number of walks, Upton said he's improved his recognition of pitches not thrown inside the strike zone.
"It's a combination of seeing the ball better and pitchers just not throwing strikes," Upton said. "I think early on I was chasing out of my zone a little bit. I have done a better job of making sure the pitches are in the zone. I also haven't been seeing many pitches over the plate."
Fellow outfielder Chris Young came back from the disabled list on Friday just in time to see Upton start swinging the bat better.
"He's always going to be a confident player," Young said. "He's a great player. He's going to be just fine. He had a rough patch early in the season last year, and the next thing you know, he's getting MVP votes. He always has that in the tank, and it's just a matter of when it's going to come out."
The beginning of Interleague play bodes well for Upton, too. Since 2009, Upton has the third-highest Interleague batting average in baseball, a mark of .373, and his Interleague on-base percentage of .451 ranks second, trailing only Albert Pujols.
Breslow consistent force in D-backs' bullpen
KANSAS CITY -- D-backs reliever Craig Breslow is focused on consistency.
Breslow said he made some adjustments in Spring Training this season and the left-hander has consistently been almost unhittable to opponents.
Breslow had a pencil-thin 1.31 ERA this season in 18 appearances prior to Saturday's game against the Royals, tied for the sixth-lowest among National League relievers. Opposing hitters are batting just .155 against Breslow.
Breslow hadn't allowed a run in 9 1/3 innings this month. He's only allowed four hits and one walk, all while striking out eight batters.
"So far, things have been working out," Breslow said. "I feel like every time I go out there, I have the same stuff, same command. It makes me a lot more predictable, a lot more reliable. It's kind of paid off."
A new member of the D-backs this season, Breslow said that a consistent string of performances would help delineate a specific role for him in the bullpen.
"New team, new coaching staff, I think I'm feeling them out as much as they are me," Breslow said. "It takes a little bit of time to kind of define roles, but I think as long as I can be consistent, it's a lot easier to carve out a role for me. If you're not really sure what you're getting, it's hard to pencil me into a specific spot."
Bauer impressive in first Triple-A outing
KANSAS CITY -- Triple-A seems to be no match for Trevor Bauer.
The right-handed pitcher -- ranked the top prospect in the D-backs organization by MLB.com -- made his first start for Triple-A Reno on Friday night against Oklahoma City, and the results were impressive. Bauer threw eight innings, allowing just one run on four hits and one walk. He struck out 11 batters.
Bauer is now 8-1 with a 1.60 ERA in nine Minor League starts this season: eight with Double-A Mobile and one with Reno. He's struck out 71 batters in a total of 56 1/3 innings.
The D-backs won three of the first five games on their current road trip, adding to their success on the road so far this season. Entering play on Saturday, the D-backs were the only team in the National League West with a winning record away from home at 11-10.
Conversely, though, the D-backs have been one of the National League's worst home teams. No teams have won fewer games in their home ballpark then the D-backs, who are 7-12 at Chase Field.
With his three runs scored in Friday's 6-4 win over the Royals, Justin Upton became the first D-back to score three runs in a single game this season. Last season, the feat was accomplished a total of 21 times.
Vinnie Duber is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.