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Injured D-backs inching toward returns to diamond

The Arizona Diamondbacks have found a way to stay above .500 at 21-18 despite missing some key pieces from their lineup for most of, if not all of the 2013 season.

Tuesday, manager Kirk Gibson was asked about the status of some of those missing pieces, including infielder Willie Bloomquist, second baseman Aaron Hill and center fielder Adam Eaton.

Bloomquist is still dealing with a strained intercostal muscle and has been on the disabled list since spring training.

“He’s going to play Thursday in extended (spring training), maybe a day or two and then we’ll talk about where we’re going to send him out to play and for how long,” Gibson said Tuesday. “He’s been out since the beginning of the season, so he needs to play some baseball, definitely.”

The veteran infielder has been on the DL officially since March 30 when he strained the muscle during an at bat. Bloomquist said last week that he’d tried to play in an extended spring game a couple weeks ago but taking a swing in a real game didn’t feel good, so the training staff backed him off again. He’s been taking batting practice and infield since then.

Gibson said it’s necessary to send the veteran on a rehab assignment.

“To get up to speed number one and the other part is to make sure he’s healthy to play sustained games back to back to back so I know he’s okay.”

Second baseman Aaron Hill had a CT scan of his broken left hand on Monday and the results were not as promising as the organization had hoped. Hill has still not been given the green light to do any strengthening.

“It’s just in a tricky place and different things heal at different pace,” Gibson said. “We had hoped it was ready but he’s not.”

Hill has been on the DL since April 15, but he was originally hit by the pitch that caused the injury on April 9. There is no timetable for his return right now.

“It’s just not healing enough to move him on to the next step — more movement and more strengthening. It’s right by that tendon that attaches right here (pointing at his hand),” Gibson stated. “If it’s not healed enough and you start moving it, it gets irritated and it gets sore again.”

Hill has been wearing a cast but can play catch by throwing a ball and having someone else catch it for him. He’s also been able to stay in shape with conditioning and footwork drills.

Then there’s young, promising center fielder Adam Eaton, who is further along in his rehab and should be getting close to coming off the DL. He’s been out with a strained left elbow suffered during spring training.

Eaton has played in 11 games with Triple-A Reno and Single-A Advanced Visalia. He’s hitting only .077 (3-for-39) as the designated hitter with two doubles, five RBI and five walks.

“He’s been playing, on the 17th he’s scheduled to play in the outfield,” said Gibson. “He threw out to 135 feet yesterday, so he’s extending throwing program.”