D-backs turn to Minor Leaguers after trades

Arizona still pushing toward postseason despite moving veterans

D-backs turn to Minor Leaguers after trades

PHOENIX -- In less than 24 hours, the D-backs traded a pair of veteran players in reliever Oliver Perez and utility infielder Cliff Pennington, and replaced them on the 25-man roster with a pair of Minor Leaguers in Keith Hessler and Jamie Romak before Saturday's 4-1 loss to the Reds at Chase Field.

But D-backs manager Chip Hale said the focus for his club remains on finishing the season strong and remaining in the hunt for a National League Wild Card spot.

"Our goal has not changed," Hale said. "We're going to sprint it to the finish and we're going to battle every night to win."

The D-backs recalled left-handed reliever Hessler from Triple-A Reno to fill Perez's spot in the bullpen, and utility man Romak, also from Reno, to take Pennington's spot on the bench. Hessler, 26, has yet to pitch in the Major Leagues. He was 4-2 with a 1.68 ERA across three Minor League levels this season, with a 5.27 ERA in 13 games for Reno.

Hessler was a 28th-round Draft pick by the D-backs in 2010 after playing at Coastal Carolina University. He has spent the last five seasons in the Minors and made his MLB debut on Saturday, striking out Todd Frazier and Jay Bruce in a scoreless eighth inning.

Keith Hessler's MLB debut

"I've been hearing about him for a long time," Hale said. "I think we're excited to see him. Am I going to use him against lefties situationally? Maybe."

Hale added though that he does feel comfortable in using Hessler to get both right-handers and left-handers out.

Hessler said he is focused on continuing to do what has worked well for him at times this season, and also hopes the initial nerves will go away when he takes the mound.

"I pride myself on getting lefties out, any left-handed pitcher would. I just try to attack hitters. I don't want to fall behind and let them get into good hitter's counts," Hessler said. "I think once I get on the field, I'm hoping it will all go away. And it's baseball, so hopefully that will take over."

Romak, 29, has limited experience in the Majors. He played in 15 games for the Dodgers in 2014. This season, Romak hit .289 with 22 home runs and 87 RBIs for Reno. He struck out in his D-backs debut Saturday, pinch-hitting in the seventh inning.

Romak can play any infield position and also play in the outfield if needed. But Hale said Romak will be coming off the bench for the most part, and if he does get a start, it will likely be at third base.

"That's probably his best and most comfortable spot right now," Hale said.

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