A broken hand suffered by starting second baseman Aaron Hill cleared the way for Arizona Diamondbacks’ shortstop Didi Gregorius to make his debut at the major league level.
In his first D-backs at bat last Thursday, Gregorius homered on the first pitch he saw from Yankees starter Phil Hughes. In three games since, Gregorius has had five hits in 10 turns at the plate, including his second home run of the campaign — tying for second most home runs on the club.
The 23-year-old’s explosive start came just three days after being activated off the 15-day disabled list for a strained right elbow, an injury D-backs manager Kirk Gibson says Gregorius is still rehabbing.
“We’ve prepared him to be able to be ready and he’s got a ton of at-bats,” Gibson told Arizona Sports 620’s Burns and Gambo. “Even though his arm was hurt and couldn’t throw, we shut him down for six weeks but he’d been hitting all along so he feels pretty comfortable at the plate.”
Gregorius was knocking at the big league’s door after hitting .387 (12-for-31), with two home runs, two doubles, two RBI and scoring seven runs in seven games for Arizona’s Triple-A affiliate in Reno.
“He’s very athletic and has got a lot of pop,” Gibson said. “He’s a sponge for information and when you give him that information you see him implement it and he does it in a positive way.
“He trusts me, trusts his teammates, trusts his coaching staff and he wants to be good.”
It’s certainly nice for the D-backs to see Gregorius producing at a high level, however, they don’t want to risk his long-term health for short-term gains, even if it’s just for precaution.
“We want to make sure we don’t jeopardize his elbow since he had that little injury,” the manager said. “He hasn’t felt anything since rehab started so we want to keep it that way and just kind of work him in.”
Shortstop Willie Bloomquist’s return from a rib injury would help lighten the load for the D-backs’ young prospect, but it will be a while until the team will see any of Bloomquist.
“Willie is a ways away, he hasn’t even taken batting practice yet,” Gibson told the show. “He’s only taken some light swings off the batting tee up to this point.
“When Willie comes back we’ll have a decision to make but we’ll just see how (Gregorius) progresses.”