Diamondbacks’ Zach Davies progressing as young rotation feels growing pains

May 5, 2023, 7:32 PM | Updated: 7:34 pm

Starting pitcher Zach Davies #27 of the Arizona Diamondbacks delivers to home plate in the first in...

Starting pitcher Zach Davies #27 of the Arizona Diamondbacks delivers to home plate in the first inning against the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field on September 9, 2022 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images)

(Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images)

PHOENIX —  Arizona Diamondbacks manager Torey Lovullo expects the growing pains his young rotation is experiencing to pay dividends, but he admitted getting veteran Zach Davies back for stability is needed.

Davies went on the 15-day injured list on April 9 with an oblique strain, but he threw a 41-pitch bullpen on Friday and felt “really good.”

The righty is scheduled to face live hitters next week in the Arizona Complex League on five days of rest.

“He was able to do a lot of arm care because (the injury) was down by his side,” Lovullo said Friday. “Should be a pretty quick transition for him.”

Davies, 30, will get at least two outings in the ACL starting with two innings. From there, the D-backs will map out five days until his next outing and evaluate where he stands.

“Lots of moving parts between now and 12-14 days from now,” Lovullo said.

The D-backs’ rotation had a new look this week with Brandon Pfaadt inserted on Wednesday when he made his MLB debut. The No. 3-5 arms behind Zac Gallen and Merrill Kelly entered Friday with a combined 21 starts, six fewer than Davies’ 27 for the D-backs last year alone.

Arizona expected mixed results and has received just that.

Rookie Ryne Nelson has allowed five or more runs in three straight starts, only throwing four innings in his latest outing.

Pfaadt allowed seven earned runs and four long balls in 4.2 frames on Wednesday, although Lovullo admitted to leaving him in a batter or two long.

“They’re three young starting pitchers (Nelson, Tommy Henry and Pfaadt), this is a different environment than most of them have been in before. They’re going to learn and grow up on the spot,” Lovullo told Arizona Sports’ Burns & Gambo on Friday.

Arizona will be patient with the young rotation in place until Davies is ready for a return, which will bring up the question of who stays and who heads back to Reno. That bridge will be crossed when necessary.

Despite some tough lessons, Lovullo values the attitude and effort his young arms have shown after starts both good and flawed.

“It is always a big concern of mine, what are they looking like walking off the field, what are they looking like inside the clubhouse and the next day when they get their work done?” Lovullo said. “They’re all very dedicated, they’re all very coachable.

“They know they have a long way to go until they are the final version of themselves. … They’re really smart baseball players who always know they are a work in progress.”

The D-backs enter a 10-game home stand Friday at 17-14 and in second place in the NL West.

Lovullo and his players expect to be in a playoff race all year and have already shown a willingness to make changes when felt needed like optioning Drey Jameson and releasing Madison Bumgarner.

He’s been clear that young players coming up are expected to contribute to winning.

“The game has changed a little bit for them because they have to fight for every inning they are getting,” Lovullo said.

Corbin Carroll working back

The D-backs slated outfielder Corbin Carroll at designated hitter on Friday, his first start since crashing into the wall at Coors Field on April 29. He came in as a pinch hitter on Wednesday.

Lovullo said Carroll did some light outfield drills on Friday but did not give a day he’ll put the rookie back on the field.

“He’s progressing well,” Lovullo said.

Carroll banged his knee into the wall, leading to some fluid build-up.

“It was some swelling, some inflammation … there wasn’t a ton of swelling, we were very lucky,” Lovullo said. “There was just some general soreness, some bruising in there … I know he was going to get on a program to work it out naturally.”

The manager is waiting to see full engagement on the base paths, more defensive reps around the wall and full-speed defense before Carroll gets back in the field.

Lewis, Kelly updates

Outfielder Kyle Lewis (undisclosed illness) received an at-bat on Friday at extended spring training against Ryan Hendrix.

Lovullo said Lewis is still feeling fatigued as he works back into baseball shape. He’s been on the IL since April 8.

Catcher Carson Kelly played light catch on Friday but has yet to hold a bat.

He fractured his right forearm on a hit-by-pitch in spring training, and Lovullo explained this prevented him from right arm care.

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