WASHINGTON -- As injured D-backs players begin to return from the disabled list, Arizona manager Kirk Gibson has some decisions to sort out with regards to playing time.
With 20 games in 20 days leading up to the All-Star break, including this 10-game road trip to cities that are hot and humid, Gibson will have even more reasons to vary his lineups.
"If we get everybody back healthy, I'm going to try and rotate the guys more," Gibson said. "We've got a lot of decisions to make."
Second baseman Aaron Hill was activated Tuesday and placed right back in the starting lineup.
Willie Bloomquist, who had been getting the bulk of playing time at second recently, started at shortstop in place of left-handed-hitting Didi Gregorius, who got the got the day off with southpaw Gio Gonzalez on the mound for the Nationals.
Giving Bloomquist playing time at short against lefties would be one way of getting him into the lineup. In addition, Gibson probably will not play Hill for many games in a row, initially.
"It may go that way on some occasions, but he's fine, I don't have any problem with him on lefties," Gibson said of Gregorius. "He's very good what he does defensively. He's absorbed a lot for a young kid. We've asked him to do a lot and he's held up pretty well. You see him starting to swing the bat much better right now. He's starting to swing it back like he was."
Gregorius was hitting .194 against lefties and .341 against righties heading into play Tuesday.
Things will get even more crowded when third baseman Eric Chavez returns from the disabled list sometime in the next week.
Bell still D-backs closer for time being
WASHINGTON -- Heath Bell is still the closer for the D-backs.
Unless he's not.
D-backs manager Kirk Gibson was asked Tuesday if Bell, who has allowed a homer in each of his last five appearances, was still his closer.
"You guys are all bent on who's the closer and this and that," Gibson said to reporters. "We're trying to win the game -- period. For all intents and purposes, he's our closer. Will he maybe not close tonight? Maybe not. We're going to do what we think needs to be done to win the game."
Gibson said that the team has detected Bell falling into some bad habits with his mechanics and he was expected to throw a bullpen session before Tuesday's game to try to iron it out.
"There's something that we see which we want him to try and correct," Gibson said. "When we feel like he's able to execute that, then I'll use him."
Closer J.J. Putz, who has been on the disabled list with a strained elbow, threw in back-to-back games Monday and Tuesday and is expected to rejoin the team when it gets to Atlanta on Friday.
Sooner rather than later, Gibson hopes to have his bullpen settled, something that, due to injuries and struggles, has not happened.
"You'd like to see more consistency," Gibson said. "Be able to assign roles and have guys be able to do what you ask them to do."
Hinske sits after suspension reduced to one game
WASHINGTON -- D-backs infielder Eric Hinske had his suspension reduced from five games to one and he served it Tuesday night.
Hinske's suspension was the result of the brawl between the D-backs and Dodgers that took place June 11 at Dodger Stadium. He immediately appealed it and subsequent statements from Dodgers players backed up Hinske's contention that he was not an aggressor in the fight.
"I only heard through my agent and he said that [Major League Baseball] had new video and are admitting that they made a mistake and they want to bring it down to one game," Hinske said.
Hinske's appeal was set to be heard this week while the D-backs were in Washington, but then Hinske got word that the suspension was being reduced.
"Part of me still wants to appeal it because I feel like I did nothing wrong," Hinske said. "But bringing it down four games is drastic. It's a pretty fair thing and the union wanted me to take it so I agreed, thought it was the right thing to do and I'm going to serve it today."
With right-hander Ian Kennedy in the process of serving his 10-game suspension, the D-backs will be playing Tuesday night's game with just 23 players on the 25-man roster.
"It hurts the team and I thought the penalty was excessive and glad to hear that they agreed," D-backs manager Kirk Gibson said of the Hinske decision.
The D-backs have made it clear that they thought the Dodgers got off too easily when it came to the discipline handed down and were particularly upset that Los Angeles outfielder Yasiel Puig was not suspended.
"I definitely feel that Puig should have been suspended," Hinske said. "One-hundred percent. He was the most out-of-control player in that whole thing. Why he didn't get suspended, I don't know. I have no idea. I'm happy I only got one game instead of five."
Hill makes return to lineup following hand injury
WASHINGTON -- For D-backs second baseman Aaron Hill, Tuesday was a bit like Opening Day all over again.
Hill was activated from the 15-day disabled list where he had been since April 15 after suffering a fracture in his left hand.
"It kind of feels like [Opening Day]," Hill said. "It's fun. It's just been a long time. Unfortunately, it was longer than anyone expected it to be."
Hill's injury was a non-union fracture, which means the bone has not and will not completely heal, so further rest will not help the situation.
As long as Hill is pain-free or can tolerate it if there is any pain, he can play.
"We took the time that the doctors told us to take," Hill said. "It feels great now, a lot of hand-strengthening exercises and a lot of things we've been doing the last few weeks."
Hill played in six rehab games for Triple-A Reno and said the biggest tests for the hand came from check swings and swings and misses. Once he cleared those hurdles without any pain, it was just a matter of getting his timing down at the plate.
"The last few days felt great, and I told them I'm ready to go," Hill said.
If Hill makes it through the rest of the season without re-fracturing the hand, he can choose whether to have surgery on the hand during the offseason to correct the non-union fracture.
"It'll be a personal choice," Hill said. "It's up to me at the end of year, how it feels and just kind of play it by ear."
The D-backs optioned left-hander Joe Paterson to Reno to make room on the roster for Hill. The D-backs had been carrying an extra pitcher on the roster.
Steve Gilbert is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Inside the D-backs, and follow him on Twitter @SteveGilbertMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.