The D-backs activated outfielder Kole Calhoun from the injured list Friday just in time for their home opener against the Reds.
Calhoun was bothered by soreness in his right knee when Spring Training opened and he wound up being diagnosed with a medial meniscus tear, for which he underwent surgery on March 3.
Getting Calhoun back is a big lift for the D-backs’ offense, which will be without its best hitter for at least 10 days after Ketel Marte was placed on the 10-day injured list Thursday with a strained right hamstring.
“I think the target day was today and [Calhoun] worked his butt off to make today happen,” D-backs manager Torey Lovullo said. “And he told us he was ready, the medical team signed off on it. So it got to that point where we were super excited about putting him in there.”
Calhoun led the D-backs in home runs (16), RBIs (40) and slugging percentage (.526) last year.
“He’ll be full go, I think; responsibly,” D-backs GM Mike Hazen said. “Do I think he’s going to play the next seven games in a row? Probably not. We’ll make sure — I think the one thing that the monitoring of this injury is about is inflammation, and so volume is a factor in that. We’ll be mindful of that.”
Infielder/outfielder Andrew Young, who had been called up from the taxi squad Thursday to take Marte’s spot on the roster, was optioned to the team’s alternate training site.
Ahmed and Gallen seem to be close to returning, but combined with the injury to veteran reliever Tyler Clippard and the placing of reliever Chris Devenski on the restricted list, the D-backs’ depth is being tested early.
Unlike later in the season when players may be available in trades, or the last week of spring when veterans on non-roster deals opt out of their contracts and become free agents, there’s not a lot of options outside of what is already in the organization.
“It’s something you have to deal with,” Hazen said. “We talk about this all the time: injuries, depending on when they fall, they can be tough at times [with] where you’re at. There has been a decent volume here early. It’s our job to make sure we can weather it with the depth we have in our system and with the guys coming in to play. We’ve talked about this before — the tricky part early in the season is there isn’t a lot of maneuverability externally, and that can prove challenging.”
Smith on Saturday
The decision to remove left-hander Caleb Smith from the rotation following his first start of the season left the D-backs looking for a starter for Saturday.
That will fall to right-hander Riley Smith, who came on in relief of Smith last Saturday and allowed two earned runs on five hits over five innings.
Last year, while serving as the long man in the bullpen, Smith made six appearances and compiled a 1.47 ERA in 18 1/3 innings.
“We felt like there was a good attack plan that he follows, and he has a fearless mentality by filling up the strike zone,” Lovullo said. “We’re looking for somebody to pitch deep into games. We feel like his stuff and his mound presence is going to give us the best chance to win a baseball game. He deserves this. He’s throwing the ball extremely well for us.”