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Torey Lovullo: D-backs’ Joakim Soria will return to back end of bullpen

Joakim Soria #48 of the Arizona Diamondbacks pitches during a game against the San Diego Padres at PETCO Park on April 04, 2021 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

It’s been a rollercoaster last couple of weeks for the Arizona Diamondbacks.

After a 10-3 stretch, the D-backs have lost back-to-back games to the Miami Marlins in addition to placing starting pitcher Merrill Kelly on the injured list on Tuesday.

The corresponding move to Kelly going on the IL was reinstating relief pitcher Joakim Soria, who made just his second outing in a Diamondbacks uniform on Wednesday after a calf injury placed him on the injured list earlier in the season.

Soria entered the game in the seventh inning with the D-backs already trailing 6-0, which differs from the usual situations the right-hander is normally used to pitching in. Soria allowed two runs on one hit and struck out one over one inning of work (19 pitches, 13 strikes).

“He didn’t deserve to be in that game based on the reasons why he came here, but we wanted to give him the softest landing possible,” manager Torey Lovullo said pregame.

“We don’t want him to go too long without pitching. I thought he threw the ball extremely well. I know there were a couple misses. I had a brief conversation with him in the dugout. Those misses translated into some balls that resulted in some runs. I think by and large, getting him back out on the bump and seeing him go to work was really refreshing for every single one of us.”

So where does that leave Soria when it comes to his spot in the Diamondbacks’ bullpen? After all, Lovullo has been playing the matchup game this season instead of having traditional roles for guys in the latter stages of games.

“With each pitch that he throws and each outing that he has, he’s one outing closer to getting back into that back end,” Lovullo said. “We’ll get him there. It’s going to happen — it might happen tonight. I don’t know, but it was certainly nice to see him back on the field again and pitching and performing at a healthy level.”

Soria said pregame that he isn’t looking for a particular role and understands why Lovullo has been playing the matchup game.

“That’s kinda modern baseball now,” he said. “There’s a lot of matchups, a lot of numbers, a lot of studies that suggest the matchups and that’s something we have to adjust to as players. We have to be ready at any moment.”

“I’m not necessarily looking for something,” Soria added. “I’m looking to help the team in any position they feel fit for me. I will do it. I will give 100% every time I go out there and help the team as much as I can.”

The Diamondbacks look to avoid getting swept by the Marlins in Miami on Thursday, with a starting pitching matchup of Madison Bumgarner vs. Pablo Lopez.

First pitch is scheduled for 3:40 p.m. Arizona time. Catch all the action on ESPN 620 AM.

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