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Discussions coming: How will D-backs fit Miller, Ray back into rotation?

(AP Photos by Matt York and Rick Scuteri)

PHOENIX – A decision doesn’t have to be made now but soon, perhaps within the next couple of weeks. And that decision centers around the impending returns of injured starters Shelby Miller and Robbie Ray to the rotation.

“We love tough decisions,” manager Torey Lovullo said Sunday, prior to the D-backs series-finale with the Miami Marlins.

“We go at it as a group where we share information. We sit in my office or sit in a room or sit in a visiting clubhouse somewhere and have a lot of really good decision-making discussions. And we love that. When the players are putting us in position to have those discussions, we want to make sure that we’re evaluating it properly.”

But, Lovullo acknowledged, “we haven’t gotten as far as what will happen if” Miller and Ray are ready to rejoin the active roster.

Miller is scheduled to make his second rehab appearance Monday for Double-A Jackson, while Ray is due to throw another 35-40 pitch bullpen on Monday, his second in four days.

Miller is recovering from Tommy John surgery and Ray has been sidelined by a strained right oblique since April.

“We know it’s inevitable, we know it’s happening. We know that Robbie is going to get healthy, we know that Shelby is going to be turning the corner and progressing through this part of his rehab, so those discussions are coming,” Lovullo said.

“I’ve kind of laid neutral in all of this because I’m trying to take care of today but I know that other people are watching from a different lens and those discussions are going to be happening. So they aren’t ongoing yet but they will be soon.”

With Miller and Ray both out, the D-backs have relied on Clay Buchholz and Matt Koch to fill the back-half of the rotation, and both have pitched well thus making for, as Lovullo mentioned, tough decisions coming up.

On Monday, Miller will be on a 75-80 pitch limit, according to Lovullo, who added he wasn’t sure what the next step would be for Miller following this start.

“I know everybody wants to know the magic day that he’s going to be returning to us. I want to know it, too. I think we’re all very anxious,” he said, “but we can’t take this thing out of the order that it’s supposed to be falling under. So, I’ll focus on Monday and then once Monday comes around I’ll get some of the answers to those questions that I have, very similar to yours.”

Lovullo weighs in on Suns No. 1 pick

Even Lovullo is aware of the Suns’ good fortune in landing the first overall pick in this month’s NBA Draft. Ask whom the D-backs’ Jefferson Street neighbors should select, Lovullo didn’t hesitate.

“They got to go—I think the best player was the kid from the University of Arizona,” he said, referring to 7-foo-1, 250-pound DeAndre Ayton. “I saw him the torch the Pac-12. I’m a Pac-12 guy, so I saw him torch the Pac-12. It’s hard to believe a freshman is that big. He’s a game-changer. Total game-changer.”

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