Rule 5 pick Hernandez eyes return to D-backs

Rule 5 pick Hernandez eyes return to D-backs

PHOENIX -- The D-backs have been using a rotation of Welington Castillo and Jarrod Saltalamacchia at catcher ever since Tuffy Gosewisch underwent season-ending surgery to repair his torn ACL.

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But soon enough, the D-backs will have another catcher to factor into the mix. Rule 5 pick Oscar Hernandez has played in three rehab games for Class A Kane County and is getting closer to a return after breaking a bone in his left hand.

As a Rule 5 selection, the D-backs must keep him on the Major League roster all season or they have to return him to his previous club, the Rays. However, D-backs manager Chip Hale said they will find a way to keep him.

"We're not going to offer him back, he's coming back here," Hale said. "He's coming to the big leagues with us as soon as he's ready, but we have to get him ready first."

Hale said that Hernandez's rehab assignment will soon move to Triple-A Reno.

"He needs to play because he missed a ton of time," Hale said.

The D-backs also have veteran catcher Gerald Laird (back surgery) getting closer to being an option as well. Hale said Laird told him that he feels he'll be ready to play by the All-Star break.

It remains to be seen how the D-backs will use all of their catchers and what that could mean down the line for Castillo and Saltalamacchia.

Worth noting

• Outfielder Ender Inciarte (right hamstring strain) should be ready to come off the disabled list at the end of his 15-day stint, which began on Tuesday. He will begin running in the pool at the beginning of next week and Hale said he will need to go on a rehab assignment before his return.

Inciarte injures hamstring

• Reliever Enrique Burgos (right shoulder tendinitis) continues to pitch for Double-A Mobile on his rehab assignment, as he was scheduled to pitch on Friday night. Hale said there was no guarantee Burgos would have a spot in the D-backs rotation when he's ready to return.

"To break back into this bullpen is going to be tough," Hale said. "We'll have to see where we are when he's healthy enough."

• Starter Archie Bradley (right shoulder tendinitis) threw a simulated game on Thursday, but Hale said there were no plans for the next step in Bradley's rehab process.

Jake Rill is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.