Gallen set to swing away; Marte 'ramping up'

May 8th, 2021

Although Zac Gallen came off the injured list to make his season debut on April 13, the D-backs' starter wasn’t immediately cleared for all baseball activities. The right-hander was fine to pitch, though, and he’s since made five starts.

However, Gallen had been instructed not to swing the bat during his plate appearances. When Gallen sustained a hairline fracture in his right forearm during Spring Training, it was an ailment that stemmed from a batting-practice session in which he was jammed by a pitch while facing a pitching machine.

Now, Gallen has been cleared to try to contribute offensively. He said that he got the OK prior to his May 1 start against the Rockies, but he saw only one pitch in that game and laid down a sacrifice bunt. In Friday’s loss to the Mets, Gallen finally had an opportunity to swing away.

“They’d like me to try to swing as minimal as possible, but we talked about it -- if there are runners in scoring position, just go up and have a normal at-bat,” Gallen said.

Gallen came up with runners on first and second with two outs in the second inning Friday night against Mets left-hander David Peterson. Gallen fouled off the first pitch, later fouled off another and then drew a six-pitch walk to load the bases.

In the third, Gallen swung at four pitches during his eight-pitch at-bat against right-hander Robert Gsellman, which came with the bases loaded. Gallen hit a grounder to shortstop that resulted in an RBI fielder’s choice.

“Just try not to swing nine, 10, 11 times max effort, even though you know when you’re out there, you might swing 70 percent. But it might feel like, with the game intensity, it’s going to bring you close to 100,” Gallen said of his approach. “Try not to overdo it right now and let this thing have the full time to heal and be as good as possible.”

Gallen said that his forearm has felt good while pitching, and that’s been clear from his results -- he allowed two runs (one earned) over six innings in Friday’s no-decision. And he said that he’s had “no issues” since returning to swinging the bat.

“I haven’t felt anything, honestly, since the first day I started and was able to swing, which has been probably a week and a half now,” Gallen said. “That’s good news in that sense.”

Latest on Marte

Ketel Marte (right hamstring strain) was scheduled to do outfield work Saturday and continues to get closer to going on a rehab assignment, according to Arizona manager Torey Lovullo. Marte has been running and taking batting practice and Lovullo said that the center fielder is “pretty much game-ready.”

“The fact that he’s ramping up and changing direction a little bit with his running and intensifying that particular area tells me that he’s getting closer,” Lovullo said.

The question that remains on D-backs fans’ minds -- how close?

“He still has some boxes that he has to check and he’s not quite there yet,” Lovullo said. “I spoke to him today and he’s in a very good mindset, and that’s generally when these athletes are telling me a story that they’re ready to take those next necessary steps.”

More high-leverage spots for Soria?

On Friday, right-hander Joakim Soria made his second appearance since coming off the injured list earlier this week, but it was his first in a high-leverage situation. Soria entered with the game tied at 4 in the ninth inning, and after giving up a leadoff single to Jeff McNeil, he retired the next three batters on six pitches.

Soria, who missed a month of action due to a left calf strain, is a 14-year MLB veteran and will continue to factor into the late-inning mix during his first season with the D-backs, per Lovullo.

“I feel very good about where Joakim is and I feel like he’s ready for the next set of challenges,” Lovullo said.