Right-hander Zac Gallen will be activated off the injured list to start Thursday's finale vs. the Giants, the D-backs announced Wednesday.
“We’re all excited about it,” said manager Torey Lovullo. “He’s worked extremely hard to make tomorrow happen with the medical team, working extremely hard on his craft. Everything that I’ve been seeing -- sometimes I would see his bullpens over at Salt River [Fields] -- we all felt strongly that this was going to be the right situation for him.”
Gallen’s return to the big league team has been pretty quick given that he suffered a UCL injury. Most teams err on the side of caution when it comes to that ligament, but Lovullo said the D-backs' medical team signed off on the move. Gallen, whose pitch count will be limited in his first several starts back, said he feels comfortable with the decision as well.
Additionally, assistant general manager Amiel Sawdaye noted that the Majors would be a better place for Gallen to build his arm back up, as opposed to the high-octane offensive environment of Triple-A West, where Gallen might get in situations where he couldn’t satisfy his pitch count.
"They’re playing football games up there,” Sawdaye said. “It was 21-16 the other night. As we talked through it, we’re not even sure that Zac would be able to get to his pitch count in that environment. We’re keeping a strict pitch count on him, and it’s really important that he gets through that. I don’t know that Triple-A Reno is a better place for him to pitch right now."
For Gallen, he’ll experience quite the jump in competition. The 25-year-old's last rehab start came not with Triple-A Reno, but in the Arizona Fall League. The results were, expectedly, one-sided, as Gallen struck out the first seven batters he faced.
When asked why he opted to pitch in the AZL rather than Triple-A Reno, Gallen said he felt more comfortable in an environment where he could emphasize getting a feel on the mound. Gallen also noted that his intensity level, whether in the AZL or the Majors, is going to be the same, so he wasn’t worried about the level of competition.
Gallen’s return will be a breath of fresh air for the D-backs, who are in the midst of an absolutely brutal stretch. Arizona entered Wednesday's game in San Francisco with 21 consecutive road losses, one game shy of the record for most consecutive road defeats (22, accomplished by the 1963 Mets and 1943 Athletics).
The series finale, then, will be a battle of the aces, as Gallen will face off against Kevin Gausman, who has seven wins and a dazzling 1.43 ERA this season.
In Gallen’s absence, Arizona's starting rotation has a 5.46 ERA and 4.78 FIP, both third-worst in the league during that span.
Gallen’s last appearance came on May 7 against the Mets, a start in which he allowed one run across six innings.
D-backs bring in former GM
With general manager Mike Hazen taking a leave of absence, the D-backs brought back Allard Baird, who has more than three decades of experience working in big league organizations.
“Allard is somebody that we trust with the highest integrity, somebody that has obviously done everything in this game,” Sawdaye said. “Just an impeccable person. He can go out and evaluate, he can spend time in the Major Leagues and the Minor Leagues. He has every tool in the shed. So, it was a no-brainer for us."
Baird won’t have a specific role with the D-backs, but will assist the club as the Draft and Trade Deadline approach.
Baird has a wealth of experience in baseball, most of which comes with the Royals. Baird began working for the organization as a hitting coach for Class-A Appleton, working his way all the way up to the role of general manager, a role he held from 2000 to 2006.
Along with his time in Kansas City, Baird has worked with the Red Sox and Mets. In Boston, Baird would become senior vice president of player personnel under Dave Dombrowski, helping the Red Sox win titles in 2007, 2013 and 2018.