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Diamondbacks closer J.J. Putz hoping to return next week

Jul 21, 2011, 10:15 AM EDT

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Out since late June with elbow tendinitis, J.J. Putz threw one inning in an extended spring training game yesterday and is hoping to rejoin the Diamondbacks’ bullpen early next week.

Kirk Gibson indicated that Putz will resume closing right away, but the manager told Anthony Fenech of MLB.com that he wants to see the injured right-hander work back-to-back days before coming off the disabled list.

Putz is expected to pitch Friday and Saturday at Triple-A, so barring a setback he could be cleared to return as soon as Monday.

In his absence David Hernandez has converted 7-of-7 save chances while allowing zero runs and Putz blew four saves in June before finally being shut down, so it would make sense for the Diamondbacks to ease him back into the closer role regardless of his ability to pitch on consecutive days.

Putz, who signed a two-year, $10 million deal as a free agent this offseason, converted 16-of-16 save chances with a 1.57 ERA through the end of May before his elbow starting barking again.

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