D-backs notes: Ross optimistic but realistic
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- It has looked more and more likely for the last week or so that Diamondbacks outfielder Cody Ross will not be ready in time for Opening Day as he rehabs a strained soleus muscle in his left calf.
Ross said Sunday, however, that he is still targeting a return on Opening Day, although he also is being cautious not to make the injury into a bigger issue.
"At the end of the day, it's better if you take the extra time and you're healthy down the stretch as opposed to playing Opening Day and blowing out," Ross said. "The goal is to be ready Opening Day still, without compromising (my health)."
Ross was shut down from running on March 5 but has been throwing and hitting. He got 10 at-bats in a minor league game Saturday and was scheduled to get the same Sunday, so at-bats before Opening Day shouldn't be an issue. Ross also has been running on a weight-bearing treadmill, most recently at 60 percent of his body weight. He was set to do so again Sunday, and if it went well, Ross said, he might begin jogging on the ground Tuesday.
Though Ross said he's ahead of schedule and feels about 70 percent healthy, Opening Day is now a week away. Ross has appeared in just four Cactus League games, getting seven at-bats. So it's still likely that he'll start the year on the disabled list.
Ross and manager Kirk Gibson for the first time Sunday discussed that possibility. The consensus is that Ross is too important to the D-backs for them to risk bringing him back early and suffering further injury.
"If he's just ready, are we smart to do that given that we've already got people hurt?" Gibson said. "Or would we be smarter to delay that and make sure? If he comes back and hurts it again, it's going to be six to eight weeks, and that's certainly something we can't afford."
Adam Eaton has the other injury Gibson referenced. It was revealed Friday that the starting center fielder has a sprained ulnar collateral ligament and will miss between six and eight weeks.
Accordingly, the D-backs don't want to be down two outfielders for an extended stretch.
Ross said he understands the importance of Opening Day for fans and the specialness for players but has played in plenty of Opening Day games already and would rather be totally healthy than play in another. He said he plans to test himself running at full speed a few days before Opening Day to gauge his readiness.
The results weren't good in Wade Miley's first outing since being scratched with biceps discomfort March 12, but it was more important for the D-backs that Miley felt healthy in his start Sunday.
Miley had been dealing with what pitchers call "dead arm," a common occurrence in spring training and at a certain point in the season. Rather than push Miley, the D-backs opted to rest him. Whether or not the rest helped, Miley felt normal Sunday.
"My arm feels great," Miley said. "Everything felt fine. My fastball felt like it had life on it. Everything was coming out good."
Miley went just 3 1/3 innings, throwing roughly 62 pitches, and gave up four runs on six hits while walking one and striking out three. He gave up a first-inning leadoff home run to Mariners center fielder Franklin Gutierrez and a monstrous three-run homer to first baseman Kendrys Morales in the third inning.
"I thought he was just a little rusty," Gibson said. "There's nothing we're apprehensive about with his arm or the way he threw the ball."
The D-backs must determine how they plan to move forward with Miley; they could skip his start the first time through the rotation thanks to an April 4 off day. That would allow Miley to make one more start in the minor leagues to build up his strength and pitch count.
"We'll talk," Miley said. "I've got one more start before the season and we'll go from there, but right now I feel great."
Miley is tentatively scheduled to pitch March 30 against the Reds at Chase Field, the D-backs' last game before Opening Day.
The D-backs made two roster moves following Sunday's game, reassigning right-handed pitcher Eddide Bonine and veteran infielder Mark Teahen to minor league camp. ... Gibson suggested Sunday that minor league outfielder Alfredo Marte could be a candidate to make the Opening Day roster due to the D-backs' outfield injuries. The 23-year-old would offer the D-backs a right-handed hitting option.