LOS ANGELES -- The primary cause of the D-backs' 4-14 record to start the season can be traced to the starting rotation.
The starters entered Friday's games last in the Majors with a 7.63 ERA, more than two runs higher than the 29th-ranked Twins.
"Just execution, pitch execution, controlling the strike zone, controlling the counts," D-backs manager Kirk Gibson said of the reason for the starters' struggles. "Haven't been able to make pitches to get out of it."
When he was struggling as a player, Gibson said his manager with the Tigers, Sparky Anderson, would say the same thing to him.
"Make yourself feel better, big boy," Anderson would tell him.
So Gibson would smash his helmet with his bat and then break his bat.
Has he thought about doing that now?
"I probably couldn't anymore," Gibson said with a smile. "The last time I tried to throw a helmet, it bounced straight back and hit me between the eyes. That's how good I was going."
Ross returns from DL; Rowland-Smith DFA'd
LOS ANGELES -- The D-backs activated outfielder Cody Ross from the disabled list Friday and manager Kirk Gibson put him right in the lineup.
To make room for Ross, the D-backs designated left-hander Ryan Rowland-Smith for assignment.
Ross has not played since he suffered a fracture and dislocation of his right hip on Aug. 11 while running to first base.
"Obviously excited to be back with the guys and hoping I can help as much as I can," Ross said.
By all accounts, Ross returned ahead of initial projections from what is a unique injury in baseball.
However there will be some differences, at least at first.
Prior to the injury, Ross had played left, center and right fields, but for now Gibson will not use him in center.
In addition, Ross has lost some of the speed he had and said doctors have told him they don't know if it will come back.
"I'm not running as well as I did before, but I don't feel any pain," Ross said. "It's good enough."
• With the activation of Cody Ross and the decision to designate Ryan Rowland-Smith for assignment, the D-backs have 13 position players and 12 pitchers like most teams do, rather than the reverse, which had been problematic in leaving them with a short bench.
"It bit us several times," manager Kirk Gibson said. "We needed the pitching, I guess, but at the same time, we made the decision we're going to go with what we're supposed to have, take the extra hitter."
• The decision to designate Rowland-Smith was not an easy one. The team has 10 days to trade or place him on waivers. If he clears waivers, he would have the right to become a free agent or accept an assignment to Triple-A Reno.
"He threw very well for us," Gibson said. "I love the guy's demeanor, his attitude, willingness to take the ball every day. You hope he's a guy who would want to come back and stay in the organization. He's certainly a guy that we want to stay around."
• Outfielder Mark Trumbo got his first day off Friday as Ross started in his place.
Steve Gilbert is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Inside the D-backs, and follow him on Twitter @SteveGilbertMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.