Diamondbacks’ Christian Walker suffers hand contusion on hit-by-pitch: ‘We dodged a bullet’

Mar 1, 2024, 6:15 PM | Updated: 6:32 pm

Arizona Diamondbacks first baseman Christian Walker...

Arizona Diamondbacks first baseman Christian Walker during a spring training game at Salt River Fields on Thursday, February 29 in Scottsdale, Arizona. (Arizona Sports Photo/Alex Weiner)

(Arizona Sports Photo/Alex Weiner)

GOODYEAR — Arizona Diamondbacks first baseman Christian Walker “dodged a bullet” with no broken bones that would jeopardize his Opening Day availability after getting hit in the hand by a pitch in spring training.

Walker was removed from Thursday’s game against the San Francisco Giants after getting plunked in the right hand by a 92 mph sinker from pitcher Ryan Walker.

The veteran first baseman underwent imaging, which the D-backs said came back negative. The team called the injury a right hand contusion.

Manager Torey Lovullo thought the worst when he first saw it.

“That it was broken,” Lovullo said of his reaction. “I walked out there and immediately it was swollen. When we were away from Christian, I asked Max (Esposito), ‘Please tell me that’s a blood vessel and it popped and that was the swelling’ and he said ‘No, it’s not.’ I was holding my breath until I got that news.”

Walker was back out there fielding grounders during camp on Friday, although he didn’t throw or hit yet.

“He can condition himself and he was out there when his group of infielders were taking ground balls, he got a little bit of work done and then migrated over to watch his group do their team fundamentals,” Lovullo said. “I like that, I think it’s impressive that your Gold Glove infielder is following what’s going on defensively, even though he can’t participate in the drill.”

The Diamondbacks don’t have an obvious backup for Walker, who has missed only seven games over the past two seasons.

Pavin Smith is competing for a roster spot, as are versatile infielders Emmanuel Rivera and Jace Peterson whom both have experience at first base. Non-roster invitees Andres Chaparro and prospects Ivan Melendez and Tristin English have also put in work at first base in major league camp.

Arizona lost a starting piece via a spring training hit-by-pitch last year when catcher Carson Kelly suffered a forearm fracture last year before Opening Day, which pushed youngster Gabriel Moreno into a prominent role.

Eugenio Suarez, Jace Peterson injury updates

Suarez was scratched from Thursday’s lineup with what Lovullo called left side tightness. Lovullo pointed to his side and lower back when describing the injury. Blaze Alexander started in place of the veteran with Rivera manning the hot corner on Friday.

“Suarez is still going to be kind of pushed out a little bit, I wouldn’t categorize him as day-to-day,” Lovullo said. “We’re gonna give him a little bit of time. So it might be through the weekend.”

Center fielder Alek Thomas (wrist) and Peterson are also down for the time being, with Peterson joining the medical report with inflammation in his right wrist.

Peterson has had imaging done, which Lovullo said only confirmed inflammation.

Lovullo said he is not worried about any of them missing Opening Day at this point.

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