Josh Rojas returns from injury in Triple-A as Diamondbacks approach deadline

Jul 22, 2023, 7:30 PM

Josh Rojas...

Josh Rojas #10 of the Arizona Diamondbacks makes a diving stop in a ground ball hit by Amed Rosario #1 of the Cleveland Guardians during the fourth inning at Chase Field on June 17, 2023 in Phoenix, Arizona. (Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images)

(Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images)

Josh Rojas was back in the batting order, hitting third for the Triple-A Reno Aces Saturday night after missing three weeks with a back injury.

The D-backs sent him down June 19 after a turbulent offensive stretch to find his footing.

Arizona is now in a rut at 5-11 in July and looking for consistency both on offense and defense. The trade deadline is just over a week away on Aug. 1, and Arizona has scored three runs or fewer in 11 of the last 19 games.

How the next several days play out may make a difference in Arizona’s approach, general manager Mike Hazen explained this week on Arizona Sports’ Wolf & Luke.

Is this deadline the medium for a J.D. Martinez-like trade or an opportunity to add depth and retool around the margins? Hazen has said the organization is looking at internal solutions on offense, and that is where Rojas’ recovery comes into play.

“I’m hoping Josh Rojas will be back at some point in the second half,” Hazen said on Wednesday. “Getting him back to where he was in April I think would be a boost to the team.”

Rojas was sent for a rehab assignment at the Arizona Complex League Tuesday before getting activated on Saturday. He had yet to get going in Reno, as the injury held him to seven games played and 34 plate appearances.

The infielder soared out of the gate this year with a .947 OPS through April 15, building off a strong second half of 2022. He slashed .281/.369/.407 over his final 80 games last season.

But his hot start fizzled to a .607 OPS by his demotion with a 26.4% hard hit rate, down nearly 10% from 2022.

The D-backs had success with OFs Alek Thomas and Jake McCarthy after Triple-A hiatuses this year. Thomas has been a more impactful bat, entering Saturday hitting .293 with an .826 OPS in 25 games, although his lack of walks and struggles against lefties persist.

McCarthy was slashing .298/.375/.397 in 45 games since coming back with 20 stolen bases.

The D-backs have lacked consistency getting on base to manufacture runs this month. Rojas at his best has been a stubborn at-bat with a mid-.300s on-base percentage and a stolen base threat.

“I think for the most part, getting our position players to getting back to the approach that they’ve had for a while, we had one of the best offenses in baseball for the first half of the season, that should hopefully put us in a decent spot,” Hazen said.

“Then we can look and see how we can improve our pitching.”

Rojas was also playing the best defense at third base in his MLB career during the first half of the season, albeit with some regression after a stellar start.

The D-backs entered Saturday No. 8 in MLB in OPS at .756, but their third basemen rank No. 21 at .704. Rojas is a culprit there, but getting approximately 2022 production out of him would award Arizona another dynamic option down the stretch.

Other position players on the D-backs’ 40-man roster include INF prospect Blaze Alexander, OF prospect Jorge Barrosa, OF Dominic Fletcher, OF Kyle Lewis, INF Diego Castillo and OF Pavin Smith, who was sent down June 30.

Top prospect Jordan Lawlar has been excellent in Double-A (.312/.390/.560 slash and 14 steals in his last 30 games), but he has yet to make the jump to Reno.

Arizona Diamondbacks

Joc Pederson #3 of the Arizona Diamondbacks celebrates with Christian Walker #53 after hitting a gr...

Damon Allred

D-backs sluggers Christian Walker, Joc Pederson overwhelm Angels in series-clinching win

Christian Walker's bats smashed three home runs in an 11-1 win at Chase Field on Thursday, including a grand slam hit by Joc Pederson.

7 hours ago

Marvin Harrison Jr....

Arizona Sports

Cardinals rookies Marvin Harrison Jr., Darius Robinson throw out 1st pitch at D-backs game

The Arizona Cardinals' rookie class took to Chase Field to watch the Arizona Diamondbacks beat the Los Angeles Angels.

7 hours ago

Christian Walker...

Alex Weiner

Diamondbacks’ Christian Walker belts 2 towering home runs vs. Angels

Diamondbacks first baseman Christian Walker hit two towering home runs in his first two plate appearances Thursday against the Angels.

10 hours ago

Corbin Carroll, Arizona Diamondbacks...

Damon Allred

Torey Lovullo: D-backs’ Corbin Carroll is ‘coming out the other end’ of slow start

Corbin Carroll is walking a little differently these days, D-backs manager Torey Lovullo said before a series finale against the Angels.

11 hours ago

Manager Torey Lovullo (L) and general manager Mike Hazen of the Arizona Diamondbacks...

Arizona Sports

The Athletic’s Bowden: Diamondbacks should eye relievers at MLB trade deadline

The Arizona Diamondbacks should have incoming starting pitchers off the injured list. What they don't have in-house are relievers.

18 hours ago

Starting pitcher Slade Cecconi #43 of the Arizona Diamondbacks is removed by manager Torey Lovullo ...

Kellan Olson

Arizona Diamondbacks’ pitching woes continue in loss to Angels

The Arizona Diamondbacks have run out of found money when it comes to their banged-up starting rotation finding a way to hang on.

1 day ago

Josh Rojas returns from injury in Triple-A as Diamondbacks approach deadline