The plan is to be cautious with the two best pitchers of the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Should pitchers Robbie Ray and Zack Grienke of the Arizona Diamondbacks pitch for the National League in the All-Star game this coming Tuesday night or not, their coming days are already structured. That was the pronouncement from manager Torey Lovullo on Saturday before a home game against the Cincinnati Reds.
Coming out of the All-Star break, both Ray and Grienke will not pitch during a three-game set in Atlanta. Instead, Lovullo will go with his three remaining starters, lefty Patrick Corbin, and righties Zack Godley and Taijuan Walker. The order of the rotation, Lovullo told Venom Strikes, is to be determined.
What Lovullo did make clear is both Greinke and Ray will not throw their usual bullpens before the All-Star game and will not pitch against the Braves. That would set both to take on the Reds in Cincinnati on Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday, July 18-20.
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Instead, the plan is to have Ray and Greinke ready for the call from NL manager Joe Maddon in Marlins Park Tuesday night. Both have ERAs under three runs per innings and combine have 19 victories. The Ray-Greinke unit is right behind the Dodgers’ Clayton Kershaw and Alex Wood and the most dominant one-two starters in the game right now.
Taking precaution as his club moves in the second half of the season, Lovullo told Venom Strikes should Maddon approach and desire input, he is ready to respond.
"“If (Maddon) calls, I’ll tell him to use (Ray and Greinke) as you see fit,” he said. “Both are well rested and will be ready. That’s really the extent of what I would be say, and then if he wants to talk, I’ll reply.”"
Coming out of the break, the organization will be cautious with Ray and Greinke. That also gives Lovullo room for creativity and resourcefulness. To the end, Lovullo told Venom Strikes there are several factors to be consider.
"“This (rotation for the Atlanta series) has several moving parts,” he said. “We’re just starting to think about the rotation coming of the break.”"
Coming into the All-Star break, Greinke is 11-4 and a 2.86 ERA for 18 starts. Ray enters the game with an 8-4 record, and a 2.97 ERA in 17 starts. Ray is third in the National League in strikeouts and Greinke is fourth is Ks.
In the trainer’s room
Reliever J. J. Hoover, on the DL since June 23 with right shoulder inflammation, tossed 23 pitches in a simulated game Saturday at Salt River. After the session, Lovullo pronounced progress in getting Hoover back in the bullpen.
"“Everything with J. J. was positive,” he said. “He says he feels good, and we’ll continue to monitor his situation.”"
The news surrounding outfielder Yasmany Tomas is not as encouraging. On the DL with an original diagnosis of right groin tendinitis, Tomas has sustained an injury elsewhere. For now, he has been shut down completely, and Lovullo offered no timetable for the resumption of baseball activity.
For centerfield A. J. Pollock, the organization continues to take precaution. In the line-up for the opening game of the current weekend series with the Cincinnati Reds on Friday night, Pollock was not in the line-up for Saturday’s game and replaced by Rey Fuentes.
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Before Saturday’s game, Lovullo told Venom Strikes the club has a long-range goal in the case of Pollock.
"“We’re planning this out, and we want to (Pollock) to be at his best for August and September,” he said. “He will start the first game after the (All-Star) break in Atlanta and we’ll be cautious from that point.”"