For his birthday Monday, Russ Ortiz got a piece of the Diamondbacks’ rotation. He is scheduled to start Wednesday against Philadelphia after a six-week absence.
Ortiz was placed on the disabled list May 2 with a “calf injury,’’ but the move generally was viewed as a way to get Ortiz’s mechanics in sync after a rocky April in which he lost three of four starts with a 6.91 ERA.
Ortiz had several bullpen sessions with pitching coach Bryan Price before making four rehabilitation starts in Tucson, where he was 1-0 with a 2.61 ERA.
His last appearance was in an 8-1 victory over Fresno on May 31, when he gave up one run and six hits in 6 1 /3 innings, throwing 107 pitches.
“He is staying back a little better and getting his arm into a little better position, so his command in a perfect world is better,’’ D-Backs manager Bob Melvin said.
“He has been great on working on stuff. Typically a guy who has been around for a while is resistant to change. But he went down there, worked on some things, had some success and built some confidence.’’
Ortiz has given up 16 hits — eight doubles, a triple and two home runs — and 13 walks in 14 1 /3 innings.
The calf injury that caused him to leave an April 18 start against San Francisco did not prevent him from starting against the Dodgers on April 23, when nine of the 13 batters he faced reached base.
“I never felt I was off track,’’ Ortiz said. “I felt I was getting to the point where I am now. Just basic mechanics. In my mind, it wasn’t a big deal. If I happen to make a mistake (now), I seem to get away with it more so.’’
The D-Backs will announce a corresponding pitching move after tonight’s game. Long reliever Kevin Jarvis is a candidate to return to Tucson.
BACK IN RESERVE
After hitting four home runs in the final two games of the Atlanta series, Damion Easley was back in a pinch-hit role Monday, with Craig Counsell at shortstop and Orlando Hudson at second base, the middle infield pair in 11 of Brandon Webb’s 12 previous starts.
“This is the lineup that we run out there with ‘Webby,’ and we feel good about it,’’ Melvin said. “We want to give guys some rest, and Counsell is our everyday guy.
Easley added 48 points to his batting average, raising it to .291, with seven hits in 12 at-bats in the Atlanta series.
With Philadelphia starting left-hander Cole Hamels today, Easley could be back in the lineup, Melvin said. Easley is hitting .333 against left-handers.
“One of the things we try to do is match guys up where they can have some
success,’’ Melvin said.
Terry Mulholland might be the only left-hander in the DBacks’ bullpen, but he will not be used as a situational substitution against left-handed hitters, Melvin said.
“I see him more in a longer role, where he can eat some innings for us,’’ Melvin said. “Not really match him up in a situation where he has never pitched in that role before.’’
Setup men Luis Vizcaino and Brandon Lyon have been successful against lefties. Vizcaino has limited them to a .163 average and Lyon to .190.