04/25/2013 10:10 PM ET
Following road trip, D-backs get chance to honor Jackie
By Tyler Emerick / MLB.com
PHOENIX -- A week and a half after Major League Baseball celebrated Jackie Robinson Day, the D-backs finally got their chance to honor No. 42 on Thursday when the club returned home following a nine-game road trip.
In addition to auctioning off team jerseys worn against the Yankees on April 16 with each player donning No. 42, the D-backs donated 42 cents per ticket for their game against the Rockies to benefit the Jackie Robinson Foundation and the Boys & Girls Clubs of Metro Phoenix.
The D-backs also recognized the MLB All-Star Arizona Diamondbacks Branch Boys & Girls Club Youth of the Year CJ Slater, and announced the formation of a scholarship program for the Boys & Girls Clubs of Metro Phoenix. Slater will be the inaugural recipient of the scholarship in honor of Robinson.
Gibson: Kubel closest to returning from DL
PHOENIX -- Out of the four D-backs position players on the disabled list, Jason Kubel is the closest to returning to action, according to manager Kirk Gibson.
The outfielder, who went on the disabled list on April 13 with a strained left quad, played Thursday in an in-camp game as the designated hitter at the club's Spring Training facility in Scottsdale. Kubel is scheduled to play again Saturday, perhaps in the field, and then the D-backs will evaluate the next step to take with him.
"Maybe by the end of the weekend, maybe by early next week, we'll think about sending him out somewhere," D-backs manager Kirk Gibson said Thursday, referring to an official Minor League rehab assignment. "He's getting close to that."
Kubel, eligible to come off the DL on April 28th, was batting .333 with two homers and six RBIs before being sidelined.
As for the other three injured D-backs (Adam Eaton, Willie Bloomquist and Aaron Hill), they all are making strides as well, but are still a ways off from rejoining the active Major League roster.
Like Kubel, Eaton (elbow) and Bloomquist (oblique) are also playing in games at Salt River Fields in Scottsdale. While Eaton is only serving as a DH, Bloomquist is playing in the field and running the bases.
"He's getting closer," Gibson said of Bloomquist. "But he has a ways to go."
Hill, who suffered a broken hand on April 9, is the least active of the bunch, still not swinging a bat or playing catch right now to let the injury heal.
Rookie Gregorius excited to arrive at Chase Field
PHOENIX -- Even though D-backs shortstop Didi Gregorius wasn't in the lineup Thursday, the rookie was happy to finally arrive at his home park following a nine-game road trip to begin his Arizona career.
The D-backs activated Gregorius from the 15-day disabled list back on April 16, just as the club embarked on a three-city excursion to New York, Denver and San Francisco.
"It's always exciting to play at home," Gregorius said. "I'm looking forward to getting my first chance."
The 23-year-old has already made a big splash with the D-backs in his first six games with the club, batting 10-for-25 with a pair of home runs and four doubles. The hot start came after Gregorius was unable to play a single inning of defense in Spring Training with an elbow injury. He was, however, able to keep swinging the bat while rehabbing, hitting .423 in the Cactus League, then .387 on a rehab assignment with Triple-A Reno.
"That helped a lot, that I didn't have to take time off from hitting," he said. "It has paid off. It's good to start well, I just hope to keep getting better every time I play a game. I've been working on everything, and I'm still growing."
Aside from his impressive hitting and defense thus far, Gregorius has made his impact felt on the bases. Against the Giants on Tuesday and Thursday, the rookie twice stretched would-be singles into doubles by hustling out of the box and forcing the outfielder to make a play. On both occasions, Gregorius later scored.
"I just saw an opportunity and took it," he said. "You have to be aggressive, but smart too. I just want to play the game as hard as I can every day."
D-backs manager Kirk Gibson gave Gregorius the day off Thursday after starting him four days in a row, but added that the shortstop won't sit much, especially with infielders Aaron Hill and Willie Bloomquist on the DL.
"When you play like he has, he's going to get a chance to play a lot, that's for sure," Gibson said. "We do feel though recovery days are important for everybody and certainly for a guy coming off an injury like that."
• Entering Thursday's game, the D-backs had committed the fewest errors in the Major Leagues with just five as a team over their first 21 games.
"Our defense is off the charts, they've been great," Gibson said. "You're going to make errors -- it's just staying with the program and picking each other up. That part has been great."
• Matt Reynolds hasn't allowed a run in his last 13 outings, dating back to last season. He recorded the first two saves of his career on Tuesday and Wednesday against the Giants.
• On the negative side, the D-backs were batting a combined .197 entering Thursday in the cleanup spot, the lowest average of any spot in the lineup. Miguel Montero (.189) and Paul Goldschmidt (.267) have started the vast majority of the D-backs' games at the spot.
Tyler Emerick is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.