8/28/2013 10:26 P.M. ET
Prado finds confidence over two-month surge
By Tyler Emerick / MLB.com
PHOENIX -- There was a time this season when it looked as if D-backs third baseman Martin Prado might never find the type of groove that propelled him to a career year in 2012 with the Braves. In his first 78 games of 2013 through June, the 29-year-old tallied 75 hits, six homers and 26 RBIs.
Since then, however, Prado has completely flipped the switch on his inaugural campaign in the desert. In his last 49 games entering Wednesday, he has been a force at the plate, collecting 68 hits, seven homers and 45 RBIs.
"I feel like the first couple months, I was swinging at pitches I shouldn't have been swinging at," Prado said. "Everything was about confidence and getting the kind of confidence where you're at the plate and you can just pick your spot, pick your pitch and attack."
Because of his prolonged, two-month offensive surge, Prado's numbers for 2013 have begun creeping closer to where the finished a year ago. In 2012, he had a slash line of .301/.359/.438, and entering Wednesday his line for the season was. 284/.338/.423. Moreover, Prado already has a career-high 71 RBIs and is two homers away from matching his career best of 15 set in 2010.
"I've just been given a lot of opportunities," Prado said. "And when you have those kind of opportunities, you have to take advantage of it. This game is streaky like that."
Bloomquist rejoins starting lineup in DL return
PHOENIX -- Sidelined since June 27 with two broken bones in his left hand, infielder Willie Bloomquist finally got the green light to rejoin the D-backs on Wednesday following a week and a half of Minor League rehab games. Arizona activated the 35-year-old from the 15-day disabled list and optioned David Holmberg to Double-A Mobile.
The D-backs immediately inserted Bloomquist into the lineup at shortstop Wednesday against the Padres, and he responded with three hits and an RBI.
"It's been a long road, but it's good to be back," Bloomquist said. "I feel great, I've been feeling great since the day they let me swing the bat again. I think we let it heal up the right amount of time and got the proper rehab on it, so my hand feels great. I haven't had any soreness, it's been feeling outstanding."
The 2013 season has been frustrating one, to say the least, for Bloomquist. After missing the first two months of the year with an oblique strain, he returned to action in June only to suffer the broken hand -- a freak injury on a hit-by-pitch -- just four weeks later.
"You get challenges put in front of you all the time in this game, and injuries are definitely one of them," he said. "This year I've had a couple that have been tough to deal with, but you just focus on getting better and do what you can to recover as fast as you can. Just the fact that I have burning desire to play, it's been tough to swallow, but on the other hand, you have to understand that those are the cards you're dealt. I'm back now and hopefully I can help this team win some games."
With the D-backs battling to stay in the playoff picture, the club thinks adding a player like Bloomquist heading into September will go a long way. Although it has been in limited action, just 23 games this season, Bloomquist is hitting .316 and gotten on base at a .361 clip.
"We know what he's capable of doing, the way he plays the game," D-backs manager Kirk Gibson said. "He's a veteran player and at times like this, it's going to help you to have those guys available."
As for Holmberg, who made his Major League debut Tuesday in a spot start, he'll return to Mobile with a validated sense of self-assurance that he can compete at the highest level. The left-hander, ranked by MLB.com as the club's No. 5 prospect, allowed three runs on six hits over 3 2/3 innings but limited the damage when he got in trouble.
"I feel like I learned a little bit about my stuff, just being confident with it and knowing it really works," Holmberg said. "It's a little different coming from the Minor Leagues, there's an adjustment period with how good the batters are. There were a few pitches I felt I could've made better, so for next time, I'll work on it."
Although Gibson was noncommittal when asked whether or not Holmberg will be a September callup, the manager said he came away impressed with the rookie's debut.
"We'll evaluate all the guys, but he kept his composure very well considering what went on," Gibson said. "Even though they got three runs off him, he kept pitching. It was a tough zone for both pitchers last night but he dealt with it. I think he learned a lot. He's grateful, and we liked what we saw. He'll be better the next time he comes back, he has an understanding of what he has to do."
Gibson gives Goldschmidt day off to freshen up
PHOENIX -- For the first time since July 3, a span of 47 games, D-backs first baseman and National League MVP candidate Paul Goldschmidt was out of the starting lineup Wednesday in the club's series finale with the Padres. With a scheduled off-day Thursday, D-backs manager Kirk Gibson opted to give the All-Star a couple of days' rest heading into the final month of the season, regardless of how hard Goldschmidt tried to fight it.
"I just wanted him to unload a little bit and relax. Of course he said, 'No, I want to play,' but I think it was the right thing to do because we're trying to get him freshened up," Gibson said. "It's a recovery day for him and that was my decision. He has played every inning of every game for how long? That guy has carried a ton on his shoulders and I know he's gassed, he's got to be. I've been there and I made the decision on my own to give him today off."
Although Goldschmidt's production hasn't exactly lagged this month -- he's batting .287 with seven homers and 18 RBIs in August -- Gibson said he has noticed the first baseman perhaps dragging a bit as the season reaches its final stretch. Entering Wednesday, Goldschmidt has appeared in every D-backs game this year except one.
"I think I pushed him about as far as I could push him, he's fine, he's not hurt, but his legs are toast even though he wouldn't admit it to you," Gibson said. "It all just kind of catches up to you, and he's for sure not a guy we want to lose."
Despite pleas from his manager, Goldschmidt, who leads the National League with 104 RBIs and is second in homers with 31, still didn't spend his entire day resting.
"I suggested he stay at home later, but of course he came in at his normal time," Gibson said. "I told him I didn't want him on the field though."
• Because the D-backs' bullpen was needed for 6 1/3 innings Tuesday, Saturday's scheduled starter Trevor Cahill was available for emergency relief Wednesday. The right-hander tossed four scoreless innings out of the 'pen Saturday in the club's 18-inning marathon game with the Phillies.
• D-backs manager Kirk Gibson said Arizona is considering using a six-man rotation in September.
"We've talked about it," he said. "Just more rest for everybody and it gives us more flexibility. We'll just see who we bring up, then we'll make that determination. You have to look at who is going to be your sixth starter and who is going to be your long guy. Some say let's just move [Josh] Collmenter in there, but boy, it'd be hard to move him out of what he does now, his last few games have been incredible."
• While on his rehab assignment with Triple-A Reno, Willie Bloomquist played against his college coach at Arizona State, Pat Murphy, who now manages the Padres' Triple-A affiliate. On Monday, Murphy left the veteran infielder a surprise care package in his locker.
"When I got to the clubhouse, he had a walker, some prune juice, some Just for Men and some Depends and Ensure sent over to the clubhouse. I knew exactly where it came from. That's him, he likes to have fun. It was great, I took the lineup card out with the walker the first game.
"It was awesome seeing him, that was kind of the silver lining of everything. We hung out after the game a little bit and had lunch the next day. It was a chance to reconnect a bit, he's awesome, just the best. One of my favorite people in the world."
Tyler Emerick is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.