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Shelby Miller, Robbie Ray taking next steps on road to return for D-backs

(AP Photos)

Though the pitching hasn’t been what’s ailed the Arizona Diamondbacks recently, there is good news on that front. And right now, the D-backs could stand for a little bit of good news.

Manager Torey Lovullo announced right-hander Shelby Miller will make his first official rehab appearance on Tuesday for Single-A Visalia, when the Rawhide play at the San Jose Giants. Miller, who is recovering from Tommy John surgery, is scheduled to throw four-to-five innings with a pitch-count limit of 70-to-75 pitches, according to Lovullo.

Miller had made three starts in extended spring training.

“This one is a little different tomorrow I’m sure,” Lovullo said Monday, ahead of the D-backs series opener with the Cincinnati Reds. “(Miller) has hit every landmark perfectly, but tomorrow it’s going to be a normal setting where…the pitches aren’t controlled. He’s got to get through his innings and there’s a general excitement that you feel when you’re going out and getting ready to perform in a live game for the first time in over a year.”

Lovullo wasn’t sure how many minor-league outings Miller would need before rejoining the D-backs.

“We’re not going to throw him in a big league game if he’s only throwing 70-to-75 pitches. We’re probably going to need a little bit more than what he’s going to do tomorrow,” Lovullo said.

Meanwhile, left-handed starter Robbie Ray is due to undergo an MRI on Tuesday, part of the team’s normal medical protocol, according to Lovullo, who added if everyone is satisfied with the MRI results then Ray will throw a bullpen that same day.

Ray has been on the disabled list since April 15 with a strained right oblique.

“He feels very, very good,” Lovullo said. “He mentioned that he was going to be getting that MRI tomorrow and he doesn’t anticipate anything going backwards. He’s watching what’s happening and he’s anxious to get back here and help us out but once again, we got to make sure he’s healthy and taking the right steps to get back to where he can get back on this mound.”

Also, reliever Randall Delgado, who has yet to pitch this season because of a left oblique strain, will throw a live batting practice session on Tuesday at Salt River Fields.

The D-backs’ offense, of course, could use a jumpstart though it doesn’t appear that either of the team’s injured position players: center fielder A.J Pollock and right fielder Steven Souza Jr., are anywhere close to a return.

Pollock will get an updated X-ray on his broken left thumb and meet with Dr. Don Sheridan on Tuesday, while Souza Jr. is “idle for the time being,” according to Lovullo when he was asked when Souza Jr. might resume baseball activities.

Souza Jr. is once again battling a strained right pectoral muscle, an injury he first suffered late in spring training.

Offensively, the D-backs have gone cold. They’ve been held to two or less runs 13 times in the last 17 games, a stretch in which the team has batted just .174 with 163 strikeouts in 594 plate appearances.

“Once this thing gets moving in a good direction offensively, I think it’s going to be a pretty special group,” Lovullo said.