The Diamondbacks will open play tonight 9.5 games behind the Dodgers in the NL West and seven back for a Wild Card spot, but while it will take a remarkable run to secure a playoff spot, they are getting reinforcements back for the stretch run. Steve Gilbert of MLB.com reports that catcher Miguel Montero and infielder Eric Chavez have been activated from the disabled list while infielder Matt Davidson and catcher Tuffy Gosewisch have been optioned back to the minors.
Montero has been out all month with a lower back strain. This has been a disappointing year for the 30-year-old backstop, as he owns a .228/.316/.345 batting line to go along with nine home runs and 34 RBI, but the Diamondbacks will have to hope that the extended rest will allow him to finish strong.
Chavez, sidelined since August 9 with hip and knee injuries, is batting .299/.343/.526 with nine home runs and 40 RBI in 62 games this season. His return gives Diamondbacks manager Kirk Gibson the ability to rely on Martin Prado more in left field moving forward.
Rob Biertempfel of The Athletic reports that the Pirates have decided to convert outfielder JB Shuck into a two-way player. Recent comments relayed from the club’s director of player development, Larry Broadway, indicated that the outfielder would be coached in developing his pitching skills while working at Triple-A Indianapolis.
Per Broadway, the change would be enacted to help the veteran outfielder develop some much-needed versatility in the majors, where he’s only ever been limited to outfield and DH responsibilities. Well, except for the two games in which he pitched an inning of relief: once, against the Nationals in a blowout 11-4 loss in 2016, then in a similarly painful loss to the Diamondbacks this past April. During the latter outing, he finished the game with a 13-pitch ninth inning after allowing just one hit and one walk.
Add to that one minor-league outing in 2012, and the 31-year-old Shuck has pitched just three times over the course of his 12-season career in pro ball. While he has three years of experience on the mound from his college days, he’ll need quite a bit of preparation to handle the kind of workload expected from a two-way outfielder/reliever: 20+ innings pitched over a season and 20+ games played as a designated hitter or position player.
Still, his lack of experience doesn’t seem to faze Broadway, at least not this early in the process. There’s no word yet on how soon Shuck would be expected to debut his new skillset on a major-league level.