The Arizona Diamondbacks host the Cincinnati Reds at Chase Field Friday and Saturday in preparation for Monday's Opening Day. But as they are set to say goodbye to spring training this weekend, they do so with a number of players already headed to the disabled list.
The D-backs started the spring with notable depth on their infield and outfield, but due to substantial injuries, their starting lineup come Monday may not be what they originally had in mind.
Outfielder Cody Ross has been sidelined since March 3, when he left Arizona's game against the San Francisco Giants with a calf injury. Manager Kirk Gibson confirmed again on Friday night that Ross will start the season on the disabled list.
"He's hitting and jogging around in the outfield a little bit. It's really not a run day (Friday) for him," said Gibson before Friday's game. "He ran yesterday pretty good, pretty aggressively and tomorrow he'll do the same, so he's making progress."
Gibson and Ross said they chose to take the rehab process slow rather than force an early return. When Ross returns, they want him healthy for good.
"Could be the second week in April hopefully, we're going to make sure he's healthy. You can look and see if that he can start running and be able to run but you have to be able to run when you get fatigued and not get reinjured," said Gibson when asked about a timeline for Ross. "So there's more to the process than, ‘oh I can just run.' Our goal is to get him in there and for him to be able to play every day."
Outfielder Jason Kubel left Tuesday night's game against the Angels with an ankle injury but looks to be in good shape going forward. Kubel has been battling ankle and knee issues this spring but returned to action in some minor league games over the past couple days.
In Wednesday's game, he had two home runs and added a couple of other hits in seven at-bats against minor league pitching at Salt River Fields. Kubel also played in the minor league game on Thursday.
"He hit in the minor league game yesterday, I think he faced De La Rosa, struck out three times, got a hit and grounded out," said Gibson. "He told me he feels good today, we'll see. He's going to play the next two nights. Hopefully he'll hold up and we won't have any complications."
As Gibson noted, Kubel returned to the starting lineup Friday night against the Reds. The D-backs manager plans to also play him Saturday.
Center fielder Adam Eaton remains out with a UCL sprain in his left elbow. Eaton's MRI revealed a very, very small tear of one of the fibers around the UCL and was reported as a grade one strain. On March 22, the D-backs said they planned to shut Eaton down for four weeks, which included no throwing.
Gibson said last week that they are hoping to get Eaton back in mid-May or early June. He gave no injury update on Friday regarding Eaton.
Infielder Willie Bloomquist will start the season on the 15-day DL after an MRI revealed he had a grade two strain of his right oblique Wednesday. Bloomquist left Tuesday's game against the Angels after feeling "a grab" on his right side during an at-bat.
Shortstop Didi Gregorius will also start the season on the disabled list after being diagnosed with a right elbow injury early in spring training. Gregorius was shut down completely for quite some time but is now on a throwing regimen. He has also been the designated hitter for the Diamondbacks several times this spring.
"He threw today, he played in a minor league game this morning and he's over here tonight and could possibly pinch hit," said Gibson when asked about Gregorius' progress Friday at Chase Field. "He's not playing defense right now. His arm is live, just building up, staying on the program and hopefully he'll be able to play shortly after they start their season in Triple A."
Gibson also said he was unsure if Gregorius would go to Reno for the team's series in Colorado Springs or wait until the Aces head to Salt Lake City. Gibson's concern is that in Colorado there will be no DH available, and Gregorius would be limited to pinch hitting duties. However, in Salt Lake City the Aces can play with a DH. He wants Gregorius to get as many plate appearances as possible.
After all that, the Diamondbacks starting lineup is still somewhat of unknown when the St. Louis Cardinals come to Chase Field Monday. Stay tuned for any additional injury news and/or roster moves over the weekend.