ARIZONA DIAMONDBACKS

Diamondbacks recall RHP Slade Cecconi, Merrill Kelly scratched vs. Giants with shoulder injury

Apr 21, 2024, 10:56 AM | Updated: 6:03 pm

Slade Cecconi...

Starter Slade Cecconi #43 of the Arizona Diamondbacks pitches against the Cincinnati Reds during the first inning at Chase Field on August 27, 2023 in Phoenix, Arizona. (Photo by Chris Coduto/Getty Images)

(Photo by Chris Coduto/Getty Images)

The Arizona Diamondbacks recalled right-handed pitcher Slade Cecconi from Triple-A Reno on Sunday morning, the club announced, andl started at the San Francisco Giants in place of Merrill Kelly. Reliever Justin Martinez was optioned to Reno.

The D-backs scratched Kelly from his Sunday start due to a shoulder issue, and Cecconi lined up ideally having pitched on Tuesday.

Cecconi made four starts for the Aces with a 4.58 ERA, 23 strikeouts and eight walks across 19.2 innings and gave the D-backs a quality start in Sunday’s 5-3 win over the Giants (six innings, two earned runs).

Merrill Kelly injured

Kelly underwent an MRI in San Francisco but is expected to have another Monday in Phoenix. Kelly said he has a strain of the teres major. Manager Torey Lovullo said the team has not decided on Kelly’s immediate future, including a potential trip to the injured list.

Kelly said he felt discomfort while playing catch Saturday and told team athletic trainers.

“It’s a really light sensation, but in my mind I feel like I can just tell it was different than something usual,” Kelly said. “Obviously during the course of the season, during the course of our lives, we’ve all felt things in our arm when we’ve let go of a baseball. I think at this point in my career I’m pretty decent at being able to tell the difference on what’s OK to keep going through and then what’s not.”

Kelly has had a terrific start to the season with four outings and a 2.19 ERA across 24.2 innings. He threw five frames with one earned run Monday against the Chicago Cubs at Chase Field. Kelly and Zac Gallen were ramped up slower than usual in spring training to manage heavy workloads last year through the postseason.

The Diamondbacks are dealing with several key pitching injuries, recently a right elbow contusion that sent starter Ryne Nelson to the 15-day injured list after he was hit by a comebacker Thursday against the Giants.

Eduardo Rodriguez is on the 60-day IL (left shoulder) and ineligible to return until at the earliest late May, while closer Paul Sewald (oblique) is making strides in his rehab. Starter Tommy Henry was optioned on Wednesday.

Slade Cecconi’s opportunity

Cecconi rejoined the D-backs after battling for a rotation spot in spring training. He earned his first MLB victory on Sunday.

“Slade is throwing the ball very well,” Aces manager Blake Lalli told Arizona Sports’ The Ain’t No Fang Podcast on Thursday. “He’s shown a really good fastball and slider, he can bring it back even more with his slow curveball and he also has a changeup, so he’s got a four-pitch mix. He’s looked great. He’s attacked hitters. Definitely someone I think you’ll see there at some point this year helping that team. But until then, I know he’s probably going to be really, really good for us.”

Cecconi, a 2020 draftee out of Miami, received his first major league experience last season, making his MLB debut at Oracle Park on Aug. 2.

He pitched seven games with four starts in the bigs (4.33 ERA) with two postseason appearances in relief. Minus one inning that got away — six runs against the Orioles on Sept. 2 — he was productive as a spot starter and bulk innings reliever in a critical part of the season.

“There’s nothing better for development than being thrown into fire and having to go out there and just compete,” Cecconi told Arizona Sports’ Wolf & Luke in spring training. “Be a competitor, a good teammate, pitcher, and all that … Being thrown into that environment was an incredible experience. And it also hardened a lot of those young guys I feel like, myself included.”

Martinez was recalled on Wednesday and made two appearances for the Diamondbacks before his option. Totaling 3.0 innings, Martinez did not allow a run while striking out two hitters and walking four hitters, three in his last outing on Friday in Arizona’s 17-1 blowout win over San Francisco.

The 22-year-old has three saves and a 2.70 ERA in Reno this season with 14 strikeouts in 6.2 innings.

The Diamondbacks’ rotation going forward includes Brandon Pfaadt throwing Monday, Tuesday’s spot is to be determined and Jordan Montgomery will pitch Wednesday at the St. Louis Cardinals.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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