Diamondbacks’ Alek Thomas, Gabriel Moreno return; Jordan Montgomery to IL

Jul 2, 2024, 4:20 PM | Updated: 8:20 pm

Alek Thomas #5 and Gabriel Moreno #14 of the Arizona Diamondbacks celebrate the victory against the...

Alek Thomas #5 and Gabriel Moreno #14 of the Arizona Diamondbacks celebrate the victory against the Philadelphia Phillies during Game Four of the National League Championship Series at Chase Field on October 20, 2023 in Phoenix, Arizona. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

(Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

LOS ANGELES — The Arizona Diamondbacks announced six roster moves Tuesday before a series at the Los Angeles Dodgers, including the returns of center fielder Alek Thomas and catcher Gabriel Moreno off the 10-day injured list.

Arizona’s rotation took a hit as Jordan Montgomery landed on the 15-day injured list with right knee inflammation, retroactive to June 29.

Arizona recalled right-handed pitcher Gavin Hollowell, optioned infielder Blaze Alexander and designated catcher Tucker Barnhart for assignment.

Alek Thomas is back

The Diamondbacks get their Gold Glove-caliber center fielder back, as Thomas suffered a strained left hamstring during the fourth game of the season. He went on the IL back on April 1, and his return has been far from linear. He played three games with Triple-A Reno in early May, was shut down to receive a platelet-rich plasma (PRP) injection and slowly ramped back up.

Thomas played five more games with Reno on his second rehab stint before his return to the major league team.

The two-time Gold Glove finalist had a big postseason for the Diamondbacks with four home runs and a .734 OPS and entered his age 24 season with high expectations.

“It’s a whole different defensive dimension for us,” manager Torey Lovullo said of his return. “He’s an elite defender. He can go out there and run things down as good as anybody I’ve ever seen. I’ve been in this game a long time. Offensively, the at-bats were coming along very well.”

The D-backs elected to keep their outfielders by optioning Alexander, thus Lovullo has plenty of options for each matchup and easing Thomas back in. He has not quite figured out the playing time, as Thomas will not start every day at first as he eases in.

Thomas will bat eighth on Tuesday.

“It was a long process,” Thomas said. “I’m grateful to be here right now.”

Gabriel Moreno has minimum stint

Moreno went on the IL on June 22, caught in an Arizona Complex League game on Saturday and returns after a minimum 10-day IL stint.

The Diamondbacks elected to keep Jose Herrera as his backup in favor of veteran Tucker Barnhart, who without options was let go.

Moreno will hit sixth on Tuesday.

Jordan Montgomery injured

What Montgomery called the hardest season of his career just got tougher, as he becomes the latest Diamondbacks starter to hit the IL. Among the five starters in a hypothetical healthy rotation (Zac Gallen, Merrill Kelly, Eduardo Rodriguez, Montgomery and Brandon Pfaadt), Pfaadt is now the only one to avoid the IL this season.

Montgomery has not enjoyed a consistently great season after signing the day after Opening Day with a 6.44 ERA and 1.68 WHIP. He allowed eight runs (seven earned after a scoring change) in his last start against the Minnesota Twins on Thursday.

“Montgomery just had some right right patellar tendon inflammation, and we just determined that he was going to need some time down,” Lovullo said. “It was Saturday’s bullpen. … He was just walking back up to the rubber to continue his bullpen and he felt a little discomfort, so he shut it down. I think he was about four or five pitches short of a full bullpen.”

Lovullo did not give a timeline but said he does not expect a long IL stint.

That opens another spot in the rotation, as Montgomery was slated to pitch Wednesday in Los Angeles.

Prospect Cristian Mena was in the clubhouse in L.A., part of what Lovullo called the taxi squad on Tuesday. The manager said there is a poorly kept secret who will pitch on Wednesday.

Hollowell is a reliever the D-backs claimed off waivers from the Colorado Rockies on June 18. He has thrown 3.2 scoreless innings with Triple-A Reno since the move.

Blaze Alexander sent out

Lovullo mentioned the D-backs were one infielder strong last week, and Alexander get sent back to Reno to clear space for Thomas.

Alexander is slashing .259/.328/.361 this season as a rookie. He earned starting reps early with shortstop Geraldo Perdomo suffering a torn meniscus in the first week of the season and quickly showed a capable bat.

However, Alexander has committed six errors this season across three positions (one at second base, one at third base and four at shortstop).

“It was a tough conversation with Blaze this morning,” Lovullo said. “We’re hopefully gonna get the best version of Blaze down there, who’s going to continue to grow and learn to play all three infield positions, continue to have very quality at-bats and find his way back here.”

On Sunday, Alexander had the go-ahead RBI-single in the seventh inning in Arizona’s 5-1 win over Oakland.

Lovullo said Alexander will get a lot of work at third base in Reno.

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