Pedro Alvarez could begin rehab assignment early next week

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Pirates third baseman Pedro Alvarez took another few steps in the right direction this week as he continues his recovery from a right quadriceps strain.

According to Jenifer Langosch, beat writer for MLB.com, the young infielder has now played four games at extended spring training in Bradenton, Florida and could be cleared to begin a minor league rehab assignment early next week.

Alvarez is eligible to return from the 15-day disabled list Sunday, but the Pirates will almost certainly ask him to play several games at one of their minor league affiliates before they consider penciling his name back into the big league lineup.

The 24-year-old was batting just .208/.283/.304 with two homers in 36 games before the injury. He clearly needs to get his timing right at the plate, and a week-long stay at Triple-A Indianapolis should do the trick.

Shelby Miller likely to make season debut on Monday

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The Diamondbacks announced that the club optioned starter Matt Koch to Triple-A Reno after Tuesday night’s game. According to Nick Piecoro of Azcentral Sports, Shelby Miller will likely be activated from the 60-day disabled list to start against the Marlins on Monday.

Miller, 27, has been out since late April of 2017 after undergoing and rehabilitating from Tommy John surgery. The right-hander has had a rough time since coming to the Diamondbacks in a trade with the Braves, starting 24 games since the beginning of the 2016 season with a 5.78 ERA and a 90/54 K/BB ratio in 123 innings.

That trade, consummated on December 9, 2015, is certainly one the D-Backs would like to take back. They received Miller and Gabe Speier from the Braves and gave up Ender Inciarte, Dansby Swanson, and Aaron Blair.

Koch, 27, made 12 starts and one relief appearance this season, compiling a 4.40 ERA with a 38/17 K/BB ratio in 71 2/3 innings.