D-backs activate Kelly, send down Varsho

May 26th, 2021

PHOENIX -- When the D-backs opened a nine-game homestand on Tuesday night, they did so with a major offensive reinforcement.

After getting activated from the injured list on Monday, started behind the plate and batted fifth in the series opener against the Giants at Chase Field. Kelly, who had a tuft fracture in his left big toe, spent the minimum 10 days on the IL after sustaining the injury in the first inning of a loss to the Marlins on May 13. He played the rest of that game, but he went on the IL two days later.

Kelly said he underwent treatment over the past week and worked on getting movement to the toe and joint. He said it was “really, really sore” and “hard to put pressure on” at first. The pain became more manageable over the past few days, as Kelly said it’s now feeling “much better.”

“We went through a lot of tests -- running, cutting, catching, hitting, everything,” Kelly said. “Did a lot, but we’re in a good spot now, and I’m just excited to be back and help this team.”

Prior to his IL stint, Kelly batted .338/.491/.613 with six homers and 19 RBIs in 28 games. He'll now look to provide a boost to a D-backs lineup that has been held to three or fewer runs in seven of the eight games of their current losing streak.

To make room for Kelly, Arizona optioned catcher/outfielder Daulton Varsho to Triple-A Reno. He made four starts at catcher while Kelly was out, but he had spent most of his time in the outfield, playing 58 of his 93 innings there.

With Kelly and outfielder Ketel Marte back from injuries, there would have been fewer starting opportunities for Varsho moving forward, which led to the decision to send him down.

“A player that’s loaded with potential, loaded with talent, but still trying to find his game and the consistencies that come with being a Major League player,” manager Torey Lovullo said. “We feel like he’s very close. For him to sit on the bench and get sporadic playing time, for me and for us, it wasn’t the most productive way to continue his growth and development.”

Duplantier heading to bullpen

Right-hander Jon Duplantier was recalled from Triple-A Reno on Tuesday as the corresponding move for righty Taylor Widener (right groin strain) heading back to the injured list. Duplantier made two starts for Reno this season, going 1-0 with a 7.71 ERA in seven innings.

With Widener, Zac Gallen and Luke Weaver all on the IL, the D-backs’ rotation depth is continuing to get tested. However, Duplantier will be serving in a long-relief role out of the bullpen for now.

“Not ruling out starting him down the line, but being cognizant of the bounceback between starting and relieving,” general manager Mike Hazen said. “We’ll try to keep him in an elongated situation with time down. That doesn’t happen if he throws well and pitches into a different role. We will reassess his ability to start moving forward.”