PHOENIX -- Ketel Marte has spent the past two days with his D-backs teammates at Chase Field. Soon, he’ll be back to patrolling center field here. But not too soon -- and that’s the case for all of Arizona’s injured players.
“We’re not going to fast-forward anything, we’re going to make sure these athletes continue to get the attention they need while they’re gone,” manager Torey Lovullo said on Saturday. “We’re not going to speed it up by a day or two, or a minute or two. We’re going to continue to let them heal, and the idea is to have them back for the rest of the season.”
For Marte, Friday and Saturday were opportunities to spend batting practice with the team ahead of its games against the Rockies, while continuing to go through the progression in his recovery from a strained right hamstring he sustained April 7. Lovullo said Marte went through the same routine he’s had at the alternate training site at Salt River Fields.
Only this time, Lovullo and the rest of the D-backs got some face time with the All-Star outfielder.
“We wanted to get a chance to spend a little bit of time with him [Friday], see where he was at. He’s in really good hands over at Salt River, we know that,” Lovullo said. “But we felt like [Friday] would just be a way for us to spend a little bit of quality time with him and evaluate him the same way he’d be evaluated over at Salt River, but it was just nice to connect with him a little bit.”
Injury updates: Locastro, Walker, Soria
• Outfielder Tim Locastro (dislocated left pinkie finger) had a “full pregame workup” on Friday and Saturday and is nearing game action at the alternate training site.
• First baseman Christian Walker (strained right oblique) played five innings in a game at the alternate training site on Friday and “felt good,” per Lovullo. Walker was scheduled to play seven innings in a game there on Saturday.
• Right-hander Joakim Soria (strained left calf) threw one inning consisting of 12 pitches in Friday’s game at the alternate training site, then he went through pitchers’ fielding practice postgame as he continues to test the calf.
In the absence of these noteworthy names (as well as outfielder Kole Calhoun, who could be out six to eight weeks following left hamstring surgery), the D-backs have played well. They entered Saturday having won nine of their previous 11 games.
“It will be nice to layer in some of the starters that we’ve been counting on, but it’s nice to see the younger players and the understudies get an opportunity to do well, too,” Lovullo said.
Rojas heating up
At the start of the regular season, Josh Rojas wasn’t swinging the same hot bat that he showed in Spring Training. After batting .347 with four homers in 24 Cactus League games, Rojas began April by going 2-for-31 in his first 13 games.
Rojas has heated back up of late. He homered for the third night in a row in Saturday’s 14-6 loss to the Rockies, marking the first time he’s gone deep in three consecutive games in his young big league career -- in fact, he'd never homered in back-to-back games. After a 3-for-4 showing, Rojas is now 13-for-33 with four homers over his past 11 games.
“He’s got an incredible nose for the baseball. He knows where the barrel is, great barrel awareness. He knows where that ball’s going, and he’s going to find a way to beat you,” Lovullo said. “And he’s got a tremendous attitude, and that’s never wavered.”
But could the 26-year-old Rojas have been pressing a bit during his early-season slump?
“We’ve all seen it many, many times where young players go out and have a very productive camp, and then there’s just a natural letdown, exhale a little bit and say, ‘I made it,’” Lovullo said. “That can catch you, and I think he got clipped real early and he let his guard down for just about 10 seconds. And that resulted in a tough first week.
“But a lot of credit goes to him, because he stayed tough, stayed mentally strong, believed in what he had worked on all Spring Training long, and now he’s coming out the other end of it.”