J.J. Putz dealing with familiar elbow issue

May 10, 2013, 2:14 AM | Updated: 2:17 am
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The Arizona Diamondbacks returned to Chase Field on Thursday night to start a series with the Philadelphia Phillies. They’re riding high, coming off a three-game sweep of the Dodgers in Los Angeles. But, they’re also still missing some key pieces from the lineup.

Before Thursday’s game, manager Kirk Gibson gave some insight and an update into the walking wounded, including closer J.J. Putz.

Putz was the most recent addition to the disabled list, joining Wednesday with a strained right elbow. He left Tuesday’s game against the Dodgers after just four pitches and returned to the Valley for tests.

“J.J. basically has a sprained UCL. It’s not going to require surgery,” said Gibson. “We’re kind of going to shut him down for a couple weeks, we’ll have to do some tests and then see how he calms down. It could have been a lot worse and we’re optimistic that he’ll be able to come back.”

The MRI revealed a sprained ligament, a strained flexor pronator and irritated nerve. Gibson seemed to think it was similar to an injury Putz dealt with in the past.

“Remember, I think it was in 2011, he kind of had an elbow problem,” said Gibson. “It was similar and he went on the disabled list then. It’s similar to that. They compared the MRI from 2011 and today and there is some change there but not enough change where they’re looking at doing surgery.”

In 2011, Putz’s diagnosis was elbow tendonitis.

The veteran closer has pitched in 14 games this season for a total of 12 2/3 innings. He’s allowed six earned runs, three home runs, blown four saves and has a 4.26 ERA.

“It will be probably a couple weeks; he’ll just be doing training room stuff, trying to get it calmed down. Then they’ll go from there. He certainly is not going be picking up a ball,” said Gibson. “He’ll probably continue to do shoulder exercises and all those things, keep everything as strong as he can.”

Hill, Bloomquist continue rehab

The middle infield for the D-backs doesn’t look quite like the club was planning when heading into the 2013 season. They’re still waiting for the return of veterans Willie Bloomquist and Aaron Hill.

Bloomquist has not seen any time on the field this season after being put on the disabled list with a strained right intercostal/oblique during spring training.

Last Thursday, he attempted his first at-bat in an extended spring game and it didn’t go as planned.

“Taking it one step at a time and where I was at I was feeling good with batting practice and ground balls,” Bloomquist said Thursday. “First swing in the game and I hadn’t taken a swing with that kind of intensity and I don’t want to call it a setback, but I just wasn’t ready for that type of intensity yet.”

The 35-year-old has been on the DL for about six weeks. He’s steadily been making progress up to this point.

“There’s only one way to find out,” said Bloomquist. “I was feeling good in batting practice and everything else but in the game a swing is just a little bit different. I don’t want to say back to the drawing board, but just kind of pulled the throttle back for a few days.”

Bloomquist was given the weekend off from extended spring and has resumed batting practice for the time being.

Second baseman Aaron Hill’s progress from a broken bone in his left hand is coming along slowly-but-surely. Hill was put on the 15-day disabled list April 15.

“Doing the same thing really, obviously it’s gotten better. One more week in a cast, then take another CT scan on Monday just to kind of see where it’s at,” Hill said Thursday. “Supposed to be hand strengthening and hitting off a tee next week and hopefully just see where that goes.”

Hill was hit by a pitch on April 9 against the Pirates but played in two more games after that.

“I guess there’s no real time table; (the doctor) said a broken bone is a broken bone,” said Hill. “Until we start seeing heal, we’re not going to start messing with it.”

Hill was off to a hot start, through 10 games he was batting .306 with six RBI and two home runs.

“Every day we’re going to Salt River, putting on cleats, running around, running bases, throwing. It’s kind of embarrassing because people have to catch for me.”

Hill continues to stay in shape with footwork drills and also steps in during some bullpen sessions to keep his fast twitch muscles in shape, tracking pitches while the pitchers throw.

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