5/27/2014 9:07 P.M. ET
Keeping players fresh no easy task for Gibson
By Adam Lichtenstein / MLB.com
PHOENIX -- D-backs manager Kirk Gibson is looking to keep his players healthy and rested as the team takes on a daunting schedule of 33 games in 34 days.
"I give some guys some days off when I can," Gibson said. "I just try and stay ahead of it. You don't want them to get tired in a stretch like this. But it's not going to matter. It's a tough stretch, period."
Arizona has only one scheduled off day during that 34-game stretch. Gibson has the tall task of trying to manage his bullpen and keep his relievers fresh despite playing nearly every day.
"Trying to look after those guys, it's kind of hard when you got a chance to win a game," Gibson said. "It's pretty obvious who I want to go to."
Many times the person Gibson wants to go to is Brad Ziegler, who has been one of the D-backs' most effective relievers this season. In 29 games -- the most of any Arizona pitcher -- he has a 2.30 ERA. He struck out three in two scoreless innings and picked up his first win of the season in a 7-5 victory against the Padres on Monday.
Gibson said Ziegler would be available for one hitter at most. but probably wouldn't pitch Tuesday.
The run of games started with road series against the Cardinals and Mets before the D-backs came home for their current three-game set against the Padres.
Arizona will need to keep up its recent trend of winning home games as 18 of its next 27 games are at Chase Field.
The D-backs were 5-3 in their last eight home games entering Tuesday, but before that, they were 2-15.
Ankle feeling better, Hill returns to starting lineup
PHOENIX -- Second baseman Aaron Hill was back in the lineup for Tuesday night's game against the Padres at Chase Field.
The fourth-year D-backs second baseman missed most of Monday's 7-5 win over San Diego after he fouled a ball off his left ankle in the second game of a doubleheader Sunday against the Mets at Citi Field.
Manager Kirk Gibson said Hill was back to full health. Hill was cleared to play Monday, but Gibson elected to give him an extra day of rest.
"He's fine," Gibson said. "He's good to go. We gave him an extra day, and I think he feels good today."
Even though Gibson said before Monday's game that hitting was bothering Hill, he came in as a pinch-hitter against Padres reliever Dale Thayer in the seventh inning Monday.
Hill came into the at-bat 4-for-6 against the right-hander. Gibson hoped Hill would continue that success, but he flied out to center field before coming out for a defensive replacement in the eighth.
Hill missed three games from May 17-20 with a shoulder injury.
He has had some success against Eric Stults, Tuesday's Padres starting pitcher. In 11 previous at-bats, he had only two hits -- both doubles --- and had driven in a pair of runs. In three games against the Padres, he is 3-for-11. For the season, Hill was hitting .255 with four home runs and 23 RBIs in 49 games entering Tuesday.
"This is a guy who just brings a lot of confidence to the pitcher," third baseman Martin Prado said. "Defensively, offensively, it's always good to have him back."
Pollock settling in at leadoff spot
PHOENIX -- A day after hitting his first career walk-off home run, D-backs center fielder A.J. Pollock was back in the leadoff spot Tuesday as he was Monday when his homer won the game.
The third-year center fielder is one of the hottest hitters in the lineup and is settling into his role as the top hitter. In the month of May, Pollock is hitting .343 with eight RBIs and three home runs -- the most noteworthy being Monday's walk-off -- and was named the National League Co-Player of the Week on May 19.
"We're trying to move on because we're trying to get to the next game," Pollock said Tuesday. "It's a part of baseball … I'm excited to play tonight."
In his career, Pollock has hit just .257 (69-for-268) out of the leadoff spot, but he has that average up to .264 (14-for-53) this year. He is also hitting for more power out of the top spot, racking up an .856 OPS as a leadoff hitter compared to his .787 mark in the eighth spot, where he has his second-most at-bats.
"Fortunately in the last inning, he hit one out of the park," manager Kirk Gibson said. "That's one of the things that's good about him. He has the ability to hit the ball out of the ballpark. He's shown more power.
"Also he gets on base; he can steal a base for you."
The D-backs haven't attempted to swipe many bags, but of the 28 successful attempts, Pollock had six entering Tuesday -- tied for the team lead with shortstop Chris Owings. Pollock's only been caught stealing once.
Additionally, his on-base percentage (.337) was third-highest on the team among starters, behind only middle-of-the-order hitters Paul Goldschmidt and Miguel Montero, making Pollock a suitable candidate for the regular leadoff hitter.
"You know he's going to settle up there somewhere at some point in his career," Gibson said. "I think we're getting to that point."
Adam Lichtenstein is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.