PHOENIX — The Diamondbacks answered their first big question of the All-Star break on Thursday by sending Shelby Miller to Triple-A Reno, further cutting into their depth chart of starting pitchers.
At 38-52 to begin the second half of the year, manager Chip Hale isn’t putting pressure on his team to target wins. He just wants them to get back to playing winning ball, admitting that this year’s team hasn’t been the same as a year ago when a roster overachieved behind a savvy defense and a few big bats.
“We’d like to climb back to .500 is our first goal,” Hale said Thursday. “And just play winning baseball. Do the things you have to do, situationally — situationally hit … throw more strikes, be able to concentrate late in an inning, get signs. Different little things that have been bugaboos for us lately.
“I felt like last year, we were relentless. That’s something we’re going to talk about today and just get back to that attitude.”
Hale and the D-backs had more than the Miller decision on their plates this All-Star break. And with that, here are a few notes as the Diamondbacks begin the second half of the season:
NO TIMETABLE ON GREINKE, ROTATION SET
Arizona ace Zack Greinke won’t have a timetable to return until he begins playing catch, which hadn’t happened as of Thursday afternoon.
Hale said the veteran may not require a rehab start in the minors or more than a simulated game during a practice, but he did admit that the longer Greinke is out, the more likely it is the D-backs will bring their ace along more slowly.
Arizona will move forward with a four-man rotation.
With an off day after each a three-game series against Los Angeles and a two-game series against Toronto, the starting pitching schedule looks like so: Patrick Corbin will take the mound Friday to begin a three-game series against the Los Angeles Dodgers, and Archie Bradley and Robbie Ray will follow.
After Monday off, the D-backs will recall Zack Godley to make a Tuesday start against the Blue Jays.
Fellow starting pitcher Rubby De La Rosa posted a video of himself throwing at Salt River Fields, but Hale didn’t know a timeline for his return. The manager previously said that could be toward the end of the month.
Either way, the D-backs will need a fifth starter by that time. After a three-game road set in Cincinnati from July 22-24, Arizona visits Milwaukee for a four-game series July 25-28.
OUTFIELDERS ON THE MEND
David Peralta (back) and Chris Owings (foot) both played four to five innings of a rookie ball game on Wednesday and each got three at-bats.
Both will play again Thursday, take Friday off and then head to Triple-A Reno, where they will spend six or seven days on a rehab assignment. Fellow outfielder Socrates Brito (fractured toe) is only a week behind Peralta and Owings, Hale said.
HUDSON, CLIPPARD TO CLOSE
With Brad Ziegler traded to Boston, Hale said the team will use veterans Daniel Hudson and Tyler Clippard as closers.
Clippard will likely be the man on Friday against the Dodgers as Hudson works out of recent issues. Hudson has allowed two or more earned runs in five of his last seven relief appearances.
“We’d like to get Huddy back throwing with success,” Hale said. “There’s a few mechanical things that (pitching coach Mike Butcher) saw in San Francisco that they’re going to work on today. Once they get that going, it’s a nice combination of him and Clippard, the experience.
“Huddy, we feel like once he gets going, (he) can probably slip into that role better.”