PHOENIX -- As the Major League roster limit expanded from 25 to 40 on Sunday, the D-backs received a couple of much-needed reinforcements to their embattled bullpen when veteran relievers David Hernandez and Tony Sipp were recalled from Triple-A Reno.
Because Arizona entered Sunday having already played 20 extra-inning games this season, the club's pitchers have been called on to work the equivalent of nearly eight extra nine-inning games, which obviously has taken a toll on the bullpen.
"Our bullpen has been overworked, so to be able to add additional arms, that'll help us spread it around a little bit and keep guys fresher," manager Kirk Gibson said. "I just don't want to get to the point where guys are throwing four out of five days again unless we have to. We've had a fair amount of that in the last month."
In Hernandez and Sipp, the D-backs are adding a pair of relievers who figured to be mainstays with the club this year, but instead endured disappointing results and were both optioned near the beginning of August.
"They have a ton of Major League experience; we just sent them down to kind of get them work on a few things," Gibson said. "They both threw the ball pretty decent down there, too."
Hernandez was arguably the D-backs' most reliable reliever in 2012, posting a 2.50 ERA over 68 1/3 innings. In 2013, however, the right-hander surrendered 30 earned runs in 48 1/3 innings (5.59 ERA) before his demotion, allowing more home runs (10) than he had in his previous two campaigns combined (eight). The 28-year-old made nine appearances for Reno, allowing one run over 9 2/3 innings.
"I tweaked a few things, just trying to get back to basics," Hernandez said. "With all the pressure to perform, I kind of got away from just having fun. I felt like I improved on a lot of things and I started having fun again. I know every outing I'm not going to be perfect, it's just about consistency."
By the numbers, Sipp wasn't having a terrible season when the D-backs optioned him, as he had a 3.86 ERA. But the southpaw was supposed to be the team's left-handed specialist and he actually proved to be more effective against right-handed hitters, holding them to a .210 mark while lefties hit .250 against him. So when Arizona acquired left-hander Joe Thatcher at the non-waiver Trade Deadline, Sipp's role in the bullpen was taken away.
Another concern the D-backs had was that he issued 18 walks in 32 2/3 innings. In nine games for Reno, Sipp allowed one unearned run in 10 innings, but he walked five batters.
"I felt like I was making a step in the right direction when I got sent down, so it was just a matter of what are you going to do? If you go down and pout about it, it almost justifies the reason for getting sent down," Sipp said. "So I chose to continue to make progress and throw strikes. It's a blessing just to start turning things around."
Hernandez and Sipp arrived in Arizona on Sunday around 11:30 a.m. MST, and just a few hours later, the D-backs called on Sipp to work the eighth inning against the Giants. He walked the first batter he faced but then retired the next three in order to escape the frame.
"I felt good, kind of got off the plane and onto the mound, I didn't play catch or anything," Sipp said. "My first couple throws were on the mound; everything happened so fast, but it definitely felt good to be back."
The D-backs expect to call up a few more players from Reno on Tuesday, the day after the Aces' season ends.
D-backs get Langwell to finish Kubel trade
PHOENIX -- The D-backs acquired Minor League right-handed relief pitcher Matt Langwell from the Indians on Sunday, completing the trade the two clubs initially struck Friday that sent veteran outfielder Jason Kubel to Cleveland.
Langwell, 27, was 3-4 with a 2.24 ERA (15 earned runs in 60 1/3 innings) and 52 strikeouts in 42 appearances (one start) with Triple-A Columbus in 2013. He also appeared in five games with the Indians this season, allowing three earned runs in 5 1/3 innings.
In six Minor League seasons in the Cleveland farm system, Langwell boasts a career 2.92 ERA. The Indians selected him in the 11th round of the 2008 First-Year Player Draft.
De La Rosa inspiring D-backs' confidence
PHOENIX -- Needing an out Saturday night in the seventh inning with the tying run on third base and one down, D-backs manager Kirk Gibson elected to bring in rookie southpaw Eury De La Rosa to face Brandon Belt, a lefty, instead of left-handed specialist Joe Thatcher, whom the club traded Ian Kennedy for at the end of July.
It was a move that not only drew light onto the skipper's growing confidence in De La Rosa, but also magnified Thatcher's recent struggles with his new team.
De La Rosa, just 23 years old with 13 big league appearances under his belt, ended up striking out Belt looking on an 88 mph sinker down and away in the zone.
"In that situation right there, he was the guy we were going to go to and he did a hell of a job against Belt," Gibson said. "He's coming on. We watched him a lot when he did it in the winter leagues in the Dominican and we know that he's pretty good in those situations. He's not scared, he's not influenced by the situation, he throws his pitches."
After Saturday's outing, De La Rosa has now allowed just one earned run on four hits over 11 innings in two stints with the D-backs this season.
As for Thatcher, the 31-year-old made a great impression in his first three games with Arizona after the trade, tossing two scoreless innings vs. the Red Sox. Since then, however, 13 of the last 23 batters he has faced have reached base.
"Well, he got tired, No. 1. We kind of gassed him out then we tried to freshen him up and his location; he hasn't been able to locate the ball where he wants to locate it," Gibson said. "He's kind of been in a bad stretch right here, but I go out every day when those guys are throwing and I saw a lot more life in his arm, so I know he feels better. He's coming back, he'll be fine."
D-backs, fans enjoy second alumni game
PHOENIX -- After Arizona's current roster got a walk-off win vs. the Giants on Saturday, 36 players from the franchise's brief but relatively storied past reunited at Chase Field for the second annual D-backs alumni game.
Separated into two squads that included former players from the club's World Series championship team in 2001 and National League West championship teams in 1999, 2002 and 2007, the retired Major Leaguers took the field for a three-inning contest in front of a large portion of the 36,091 fans who attended the regular-season game beforehand.
"There were a ton of fans that stuck around to watch them," D-backs manager Kirk Gibson said. "That's really neat. There was great support for them, as there should be. They had a good time; it was cool to see all those guys have fun."
Among the many D-backs greats who participated were Luis Gonzalez, Matt Williams, Mark Grace, Steve Finley and Brandon Webb. The White Team, with Gonzalez, Reggie Sanders and Shea Hillenbrand, defeated the Red Team, 3-0. Mike Morgan took the loss, allowing all three runs in the first inning.
"We like those guys around here. It's kind of neat that the organization has them come in every year now," Gibson said. "They gave their heart and soul here; a lot of guys were here even before the world championship, then you have that team that won it, they're all part of the history of the Diamondbacks. The will and determination they put in, we always welcome those guys in there."
• For the second consecutive game, Willie Bloomquist hit leadoff Sunday while Adam Eaton was slotted one spot behind in the two-hole.
"Willie just has the ability to put the bat on the ball; he has a lot of grit and determination. I like him up there and I like Eaton second," Gibson said. "Finished product, Eaton is probably a leadoff guy, but I am trying to take a little pressure off him in the two-spot."
• Since being activated from the disabled list Monday, Miguel Montero has started five of the club's six games, including Sunday. Gibson has said he would give the catcher more time off given his back issues, but a chat with D-backs head athletic trainer Ken Crenshaw convinced the skipper that Montero can handle the workload.
"I just wanted to see how he was doing," Gibson said. "I talked to Ken today to get his opinion whether it's smart or just how he's doing. He observes them, watches them in the training room. He can tell how they're feeling by what they do before and after the game. It's just observations."
Tyler Emerick is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.