After straining his right shoulder in late May, Diamondbacks outfielder David Peralta couldn’t find his previous form when he returned from his first rehab stint in June.
After going back on the injured list on July 3 with the shoulder injury still nagging him, the left-handed hitter has taken a slower approach. Peralta’s return to the majors continues with an appearance with the rookie-level Arizona League Diamondbacks on Sunday night.
Ahead of the Diamondbacks’ series finale against the Milwaukee Brewers Sunday, manager Torey Lovullo said Peralta’s rehab process couldn’t have gone any better up to this point. At each stage, Peralta has responded to the test given to him.
“He got through the day yesterday and felt good post-workout. He ran the bases, and everything checked out as good as it possibly could,” Lovullo said. “And we’re super excited about him getting outside, getting some hot at-bats and a live game.”
Lovullo said the Diamondbacks set a cap for Peralta’s appearances at the plate, optioning three to four at-bats to the outfielder, depending on how he feels. Lovullo also alluded to the fact that, once back to full physical health, Peralta’s hitting technique can be the priority again.
Peralta admitted in May that his shoulder became a mental distraction and disrupted his form at the plate aside from physical hindrance. He underwent an MRI examination May 23 and was later diagnosed with inflammation in his right AC joint.
He returned June 3, playing 27 games until going back on the injured list July 3. In that month, Peralta had a batting average of .252, a .730 OPS and 22 strikeouts. In May, he hit .294 with a .860 OPS and 18 strikeouts. Peralta hit one more home run in May than he did during his one month between rehab assignments (3). Lovullo ended by saying Peralta’s objective is clear and within reach.
“He’s a hitter. There’s no doubt about it,” Lovullo said. “It’s just about getting that timing and getting all synced up and it’s not going to take them very long. He’s been gone very long. So just getting him on the field (Sunday night) was a big moment for us.”
Battle of bullpens
The Diamondbacks’ bullpen was outdueled in their four-game series loss to the Brewers, allowing 16 earned runs, as opposed to Milwaukee’s three. The Brewers’ bullpen allowed just nine hits across the four games, dealing 16 strikeouts. Lovullo called his bullpen’s performance a “missed opportunity.”
“Yeah, it’s a lot of runs. It’s more than we’re used to giving up, and our bullpen has been spot on,” Lovullo said. “I want to turn that around, you know. I want them to step up and say, ‘Now’s the time, and I gotta go out and execute a game plan.’ “
Lovullo added that the Brewers’ bullpen had a shutdown performance. He also credited right fielder Tyler Saladino’s fourth-inning grand slam as a game-changing moment, after which Milwaukee’s ability to put the ball in play increased.
Diamondbacks relief pitcher Yoan Lopez took the second half of Milwaukee’s scoring punches. The right-hander gave up a triple to the first batter he faced in the eighth, second baseman Keston Hiura, after Adam Jones misjudged the fly ball in right field. That momentum led to three runs.
In review of the bullpen’s total performance, Lovullo said, “That’s not what we do here. And it’s not what we’re used to seeing out of our bullpen.”
Not a routine catch
Before the Diamondbacks’ defensive breakdown in the fourth inning on Sunday,, left fielder Tim Locastro said he had all the confidence in the world to chase down a pop fly just yards away from the ball boy in left.
In the first inning, with Hiura on second base, Brewers third baseman Mike Moustakas hit a pop fly that was destined for the Chase Field seats along the third-base line. Locastro made a beeline for the ball and dove, headfirst, catching the ball while face-palming into the dirt and then into the wall.
“I try to think of the outfield like a no-fly zone and try to catch everything,” Locastro said after the game Sunday. “I realized that it was going to be in play. And that’s when I sort of took off and I made the dive, and I sort of crawled up, so I didn’t hit my neck into the wall, but still hit it pretty hard.”
For nearly two minutes, fans clapped and cheered, leading to an easy pop fly in center and a strikeout from Alex Young to end the inning.
“I feel like the fans got up and some energy after that first inning. We were able to score later in the first so we got some the energy out of that.
“I remember in (San Francisco), I made a similar one. But I think the one I made (Sunday) was a little more difficult.”
Diamondbacks utility player Blake Swihart continued his rehab assignment Saturday with High-A Visalia. Lovullo said Swihart played a full game in right field and looked good in four at-bats. Swihart was scheduled to DH Sunday against the Lake Elsinore Storm.