Diamondbacks’ Alek Thomas, Paul Sewald taking steps to return next week

May 3, 2024, 5:26 PM

Alek Thomas...

Alek Thomas #5 of the Arizona Diamondbacks hits the ball during the Spring Training game against the Colorado Rockies at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick on March 13, 2024 in Scottsdale, Arizona. (Photo by John E. Moore III/Getty Images)

(Photo by John E. Moore III/Getty Images)

PHOENIX — The Arizona Diamondbacks are looking to get reinforcements from the injured list, targeting next week’s Cincinnati Reds series for center fielder Alek Thomas and closer Paul Sewald.

Ryne Nelson is set to come off the 15-day injured list to start Sunday against the San Diego Padres with Zac Gallen pushed back to Tuesday’s series opener at Great American Ballpark.

Manager Torey Lovullo described an NHL-like line change coming.

Thomas has been on the injured list since April 1 with a left hamstring strain, but he was assigned to Triple-A Reno for a rehab assignment this weekend. Thomas is scheduled to start at designated hitter Friday, play the field Saturday and DH again Sunday.

He played an extended spring training game on Thursday, spending five innings in center field after an illness set him back a day or two.

Sewald (left oblique strain), meanwhile, will pitch in extended spring training Saturday.

“Targeting early in this Cincinnati series? Yes, I think that’s fairly accurate,” Lovullo said. “But both players have to check boxes and we gotta get back information from them that they’re doing well.”

Thomas was a Gold Glove finalist last year with aspirations to win several during his career, and his impending return will help the “No Fly Zone” in the Chase Field outfield. Corbin Carroll has been the everyday center fielder with Thomas on the IL, so Thomas’ return would shift Carroll back to right.

Sewald has yet to make his season debut after suffering the injury late in spring training. Kevin Ginkel has been the closer in Sewald’s stead, and the bullpen as a unit has had its ups and downs (4.34 ERA). Sewald’s readdition will move everyone down a peg as it did when Arizona traded for him last deadline.

Kyle Nelson’s timeline

Lovullo said reliever Kyle Nelson will have surgery for Thoracic Outlet Syndrome Monday with Dr. Gregory Pearl in Texas, likely ending Nelson’s season.

“I’m just going off of what Merrill (Kelly) did, I think Merrill was full go day one of spring training, so I think Kyle will be in a good spot for next season,” Lovullo said.

Did the bees impact Arizona’s roster?

The D-backs needed 16 innings out of the bullpen over a two-game stretch caused by bees Tuesday and Jordan Montgomery’s short start Wednesday.

Arizona responded by making a roster move Thursday, sending Blake Walston back to Triple-A Reno after his 3.1 innings Wednesday and acquiring reliever Matt Bowman from the Minnesota Twins for cash.

“We we got thinned out and it just is the way this game is sometimes,” Lovullo told Arizona Sports’ Burns & Gambo. “I had a conversation with Blake Walston yesterday about, ‘We’re sending you down because we can’t use you for the next four or five days.’ Those are hard things to do.”

More directly the bee game led to Walston’s call-up, and the 22-year-old did his job by bringing length after Montgomery struggled.

“He’s going to be a great starter for this organization, but he’s still learning and growing,” Lovullo said. “He’s going to be sent back to Reno to get back into the rotation and continue to be coverage for us in case starters go down.”

Bowman allowed two earned runs in 7.2 innings with the Twins this season, and he knew the writing was on the wall for him in Minnesota with closer Jhoan Duran coming off the injured list. He was designated for assignment before the D-backs picked him up.

He claimed to be happy with how he was pitching, as he started the year with a very high ground ball rate of 57.9%.

“I unfortunately was hurt for a little bit and I made some changes and all those pieces falling into place takes some time,” Bowman said.

“I don’t really think about the ground ball so much. A lot of times it’s weak contact and sometimes that’ll lead the ground balls, but usually I try and read swings more than anything.”

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