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Hazen on Diamondbacks’ rash of injuries: ‘We got to hold the fort down’

Arizona Diamondbacks starting pitcher Robbie Ray wipes sweat from his forehead during the third inning of the team's baseball game against the San Francisco Giants on Wednesday, April 18, 2018, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)
LISTEN: Mike Hazen, D-backs General Manager

Four days will likely be circled on the Arizona Diamondbacks’ calendar in the month of May.

On May 7, May 17, May 24 and May 31, the D-backs will be able to breathe.

Those days, the team won’t be playing. A pitching staff down two starters and expected to patch things together will have a day to recuperate. The days off will also give the team flexibility to shift its remaining starters around.

Arizona lost Taijuan Walker on April 14, saw him undergo Tommy John surgery to repair a torn UCL and replaced him with Triple-A call-up Matt Koch.

On Sunday, fellow starting pitcher Robbie Ray went down with a Grade 2 oblique strain. Based on similar injuries to pitchers, general manager Mike Hazen hinted at Ray’s return being unlikely within the month despite not putting a timeline on the matter.

Throw in the recovery timeline for Shelby Miller’s potential return from his own UCL tear suffered at the start of 2017, and the D-backs appear to have at least a month of scattered patchwork pitching plans to create.

“We’re expecting, hopefully, in the middle of the year, that we’re going to have Ray and Miller back,” Hazen told Doug & Wolf on 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station. “Those will be a nice shot in the arm for our rotation. We have a long road before then. We have an extremely difficult schedule until then — we got to hold the fort down.”

How they do so isn’t decided inside the D-backs’ own clubhouse.

Starters Kris Medlen and Braden Shipley could be called out of Triple-A Reno, and manager Torey Lovullo has floated long reliever T.J. McFarland as an option as well. Among options on the free agent market, the Kansas City Royals on Tuesday released 33-year-old Clay Buchholz, who Hazen knows from his tenure as assistant general manager in Boston.

“If we have to address it more immediately, we’re still looking externally as well to make sure that there’s not an option out there that would be a better fit,” Hazen said.

But as it stands, the Diamondbacks don’t have a plan to replace Ray’s next scheduled start on Friday that will open a three-game series against the Houston Astros. Arizona also faces the Los Angeles Dodgers, Washington Nationals, Milwaukee Brewers, New York Mets, Oakland Athletics and Cincinnati Reds this month.

Thank goodness for those four off days.

“It’s a little early to really think through the long-term solution,” Hazen said. “My gut tells me that, yes, we’re going to have to address it leading into the trading deadline just because (laughs) something else is going to happen. It’s a little early to figure that out.

“On the short-term, Koch-y has done a great job stepping into that spot. We’re going to find the next guy — we’re going to start on Friday and then move from there to figure out what the long-term solution could be or the middle-term solution could be for that spot.”


– Hazen on Ray: “Robbie, you know, we’re still early in the injury phase with Robbie. These injuries are fairly tricky. I think especially given where it is for him, the way his delivery works on that side of his body, you just have to be careful. You can’t push too far, too fast, or you risk a setback. We’re going to miss him for a little bit. We’re prepared for that, we’re working through alternatives for that.”

– Hazen on outfielder Steven Souza Jr.’s recovery from a pectoral injury and third baseman Jake Lamb’s recovery from a shoulder strain: “Souza and Lamb are both coming along very, very well. They’re both playing in extended (spring). I don’t know that Souza’s going to need a rehab assignment given that he has 50 at-bats in extended. So I think from a timing standpoint, he should be coming right along. We still need him to throw in the outfield in live game action. But once he does that, I think he’s ready to go.”

Doug & Wolf

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