It might have been late in coming thanks to a demotion to Class AAA, but John Patterson is back where he expected to be heading into the season: as part of the Diamondbacks’ starting rotation.
The 25-year-old rookie right-hander was recalled from Tucson on Friday and is scheduled to take the ball for Arizona on Tuesday against Colorado. To open a spot on the 25-man roster, reliever Scott Service was outrighted to Tucson.
Oscar Villarreal — who edged Patterson for a rotation spot out of spring training, but made only one start — has moved to the bullpen.
“I knew I pitched well and done what they asked me to,” said Patterson, who was 2-0 with a 1.80 ERA in two starts for the Sidewinders. “I hoped for the best and got good news.”
The team needs a fifth starter in its next five runs through the rotation.
“It’s a stretch where he’ll be able to take the ball on his regular turn,” Arizona manager Bob Brenly said. “We felt John needed a little more work to get consistency with pitches. According to all reports in Tucson, he has done that. He answered the questions we needed to be answered.”
The D-Backs could have waited until Tuesday to announced the move, which would have afforded them an extra reliever until then. But Brenly said it was best for Patterson to be around the major-league team in the days before his start.
“And I imagine he’d be available for limited bullpen use this weekend,” Brenly said.
Villarreal, who worked in relief before going just three innings at Los Angeles on Tuesday, will take over the bullpen role vacated when Bret Prinz suffered a severe groin strain on opening day.
An MRI exam on catcher Rod Barajas’ left hamstring Friday confirmed the team’s original diagnosis, a Grade 1 strain. On the 15-day disabled list, he will be out until at least April 21.
Trainer Paul Lessard said Barajas had a good workout Friday. Barajas said the hamstring is getting more flexible each day, but the D-Backs will proceed with caution, especially because he is a catcher.
“You have to jump out of your squat, and that puts a lot of pressure on your hamstring,” Barajas said. “So, I’ll play it safe. I won’t go out and run sprints tomorrow.”
Meanwhile, Prinz is no longer walking on crutches, which he called “a small step.” There’s little he can do except receive ice and pool treatments and continue to condition his upper body.
“I’m just hanging out,” said Prinz, who is on the 60-day DL. “They don’t want me to do a lot on it, so I’ll just let the healing process take place.”
Before the game, Curt Schilling was given the 2002 Players Choice Award as the NL’s outstanding pitcher, as voted by players around the league. Last year, the veteran right-hander was 23-7 with a 3.23 ERA and 316 strikeouts.
On Schilling’s behalf, the Players Trust for Children donated $20,000 to SunWise Children’s Programs, an organization devoted to developing sun-safe activities for kids.
The first installment of “Gonzo’s Sunday Sidekicks,” a program in which children ages 5 to 15 will have a chance to meet with and ask questions of Luis Gonzalez and other Arizona players, is this weekend.
In the first half-hour after gates open at 11:30 a.m. Sunday, 50 kids will be randomly selected from locations around the stadium to take part. They will be escorted to the D-Backs’ family room, where Gonzalez and a teammate or two will be available for about 30 minutes.
With Patterson’s arrival, Arizona has five rookies on its roster.