Left-handed starting pitcher Joe Saunders threw 51 pitches on Tuesday in a simulated start and said that he is ready to go and that he wants to join the starting rotation once again. He was scratched from his start on June 22 against the Chicago Cubs when he was unable to get his shoulder loose and was placed in the 15-day disabled list.
"It felt great," Saunders said after the work. "It felt great to get back on the mound. It was a little weird throwing to my own hitters, but they said it was coming out good. My arm felt amazing so hopefully I can get back out there ASAP."
The team may want him to make a rehab start in the minor leagues on Sunday, but Saunders does not want to.
"I want to come here and pitch for the club and start contributing again," Saunders said. "I don't know what the plan is, but we'll talk about that. I feel like I'm ready. I feel like I can pitch soon like even this week so we'll cross that bridge when we have to."
All signs point to his return to the rotation after the All-Star Break, but it sounds like he wants back in now. Since he last played on June 16, he is already eligible to return. His spot in the rotation, currently occupied by Trevor Bauer, comes up again on Sunday, the D-backs' final game before the break.
Bauer has struggled in his two starts in the big leagues so far, but Kirk Gibson has said that he will keep the rotation as it is and reevaluate after the All-Star Game. My guess? Bauer gets the start on Sunday, but if he continues to struggle will be sent back down to Triple-A.
If Bauer pitches well, Saunders still comes back, Bauer moves to Collmenter's spot and Collmenter goes back to the bullpen, with Patrick Corbin getting optioned back to the minors.
Saunders started the season pitching very well and was lights out in the last half of the season in 2011. If Arizona wants to make the postseason, they will need to lean on his pitching and veteran experience.