MIAMI -- Right-hander Braden Shipley will start Sunday's series finale at Marlins Park, D-backs manager Torey Lovullo announced prior to Saturday's game.
With Taijuan Walker (blister) not ready to return from the disabled list, the D-backs needed a starter for Sunday. Shipley was recently named Triple-A Reno Pitcher of the Month for May. The 25-year-old went 2-0 for the Aces with a 3.67 ERA in four starts. He threw Reno's first complete game of the season on May 21, and threw a total of 27 innings in May, striking out 17.
"He has been throwing the ball really well," Lovullo said. "We feel like he's going to step in here, follow the game plan, and do exactly what we need him to do."
Shipley made one start for Arizona this season, a May 4 loss at Washington. He went just four innings, allowing three runs on five hits while issuing six walks. He struck out two in a 92-pitch outing (49 strikes).
"I felt like we didn't see the best of what he could offer us," Lovullo said. "There were times that he was picking up the zone. The stuff was good. I thought the fastball was playing very aggressively.
"It's just that he was not on the attack the way you'd like to see. I know that's something he addressed, I know that's something that he took care of while he was down in the Minor Leagues, and obviously it translated because he's throwing the ball very, very well."
The D-backs selected Shipley with the 15th overall pick in the 2013 Draft out of the University of Nevada-Reno.
Walker throws 'pen
After pushing it back for a couple of days, Walker was able to throw a bullpen session prior to Saturday's game with the Marlins. The righty threw 20 fastballs with the blister covered up.
"Then I took it off to throw some offspeed, just to get a feel for it, and everything felt good," Walker said.
"He threw the ball very, very well," Lovullo confirmed. "We had a quick meeting about how he felt, and he was very encouraged by it. The smile on his face and the expression was that, 'I'm ready for the next step.' So that was encouraging.
"What that next step could be -- an outing, an extended Spring Training -- we're not exactly sure when. But we want to get him some innings that are more live and more conducive to what he's going to be walking into if he were to come back into this environment."
Blanco targets Tuesday return
Gregor Blanco said his injured left thumb that was jammed in Thursday's series opener with Miami is doing a lot better.
"Definitely, it's improving," Blanco said prior to Saturday's game. "I'm kind of excited about it. I thought for a second that it was going to be something that was going to take more time. But definitely the last couple of days it's been improving. I think it's just inflammation, just got to get it all the way down."
Blanco said that with the team's scheduled off-day on Monday, he is targeting a Tuesday return. He said he would begin swinging the bat a little Saturday.
"I don't want to go too crazy about it, because I still feel it a little bit," Blanco said. "I don't want [a setback]."
However, Blanco said he remains available for defensive purposes for the remainder of the series with the Marlins.