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Diamondbacks face decision on expanded pitching staff or bench

Matt Stites, call-up from the minor league Thursday, was acquired from San Diego in 2013.
Matt Stites, call-up from the minor league Thursday, was acquired from San Diego in 2013.
Photo by Rich Pilling/Getty Images

The fact the Diamondbacks are tinkering with 13 pitchers on the staff is an indication of uncertainty and also convenience.

Ideally, general manager Kevin Towers and manager Kirk Gibson would like to carry 12 on the staff. That gives eight position player starters and five on the bench. Recently, the D-backs have carried 13 pitches and that has reduced their bench to four players.

With the hot, grueling days of summer just ahead and more than half of the schedule to be played, the argument is now advanced on which option can best benefit the team.

At this point, it appears the Diamondbacks have selected to carry 13 pitchers and additional roster decisions could be made.

That would include the future of Daniel Hudson, who was moved the 60-day disabled list prior to Thursday’s game with Milwaukee. The Diamondbacks appear to be in no hurry to move Hudson into a rehab or major league roster spot any time soon. Hudson is currently recovering from his second Tommy John surgery, but hopes to be back on the mound sometime this season.

That leaves the issue of an expanded pitching staff or an adequate bench.

Part of the answer, at least for the time being, was delivered Thursday when Arizona selected the contract of 24-year-old reliever Matt Stites from Triple-A Reno and returned outfielder Tony Campana back to the Aces. That brought the pitching staff back to 13, including eight in the bullpen.

For now, the Diamondbacks have settled on an expanded pitching staff, and will go, at least for the moment, with Stites.

“(Stites) had good pitch location and good reports,” said Gibson before Thursday’s game with the Brewers. “His walk ration is down and he should be ready to go.”

For his part, Stites said he last pitched two days and ready. Asked his reaction to the call-up, Stites smiled, and said one word, “shocked.”

Acquired from San Diego at the trade deadline along with reliever Joe Thatcher for Ian Kennedy, Stites was 0-1 with 15 saves at Reno and a 2.89 ERA in 29 games. Promoted from Double-AA Mobile on May 9, Stites converted all 12 save opportunities with the BayBears.

Though Thatcher said he knew Stites briefly while both were in the Padres’ organization, Thatcher gave a positive review.

“No, I didn’t get to know (Stites) all that well,” Thatcher said. “Everyone says he has really good stuff.”

By his admission, Stites says fast command is the catalyst which provide the vehicle to the majors.

“Still working on the curve,” he said. “I’ve given up more walks than I should so that’s another area to address.”

For now, Stites could be used a closer, but in his initial introduction at the major league level, look for Stites to be used anywhere between the sixth and possibly the eighth innings.

The first game in which he enters represents Stites” major league debut.