PHOENIX -- Even though he wanted to avoid it, D-backs lefty Joe Saunders will make a Minor League rehab start Sunday before rejoining the club's rotation after the All-Star break.
The 31-year-old pitched a simulated game Tuesday at Chase Field and came out of it saying he felt he's ready to start right away for the D-backs. Saunders has been on the disabled list since June 23, retroactive to June 17, with shoulder inflammation.
"He's not real happy about it but I think that's the safe way to do it," manager Kirk Gibson said of Saunders making a rehab outing. "We want him back for the long term. We all want him back in the rotation but we think this is the way we're going to go."
The D-backs have not announced where Saunders will make the start, but Gibson said if it goes well, he should rejoin the rotation when the season resumes after the break.
Saunders is 4-5 with a 3.44 ERA on the season.
Corbin's outing provides relief for bullpen
PHOENIX -- The final score Tuesday night showed the D-backs falling 9-5 to the Padres, but it could've been much worse for the bullpen without the help of rookie left-hander Patrick Corbin.
After Trevor Bauer failed to last through the fourth inning, the D-backs bullpen was on the hook to pitch the final 5 2/3 innings of the game.
Corbin, however, came in and saved the club from wearing out the rest of its relievers with extended work. The 22-year-old stopped the bleeding for the D-backs by tossing 4 1/3 innings and allowing two runs (one earned) on four hits.
"You go in there knowing you're going to throw more than one inning," Corbin said. "So you try to keep the team in the game and let the other relievers get some rest."
Corbin made five starts for the team earlier this season before returning to the Minors. In his three appearances since rejoining the D-backs, he has come out of the bullpen on each occasion, throwing a combined 7 2/3 innings and surrendering just one earned run.
Even though Corbin hadn't pitched in relief since rookie ball, he likened long relieving to starting a new game.
"It's honestly like the same as a start," he said. "Maybe you don't get as much time to warm up and do your routine but you still have to pace yourself and work the same."
The success Corbin is experiencing has manager Kirk Gibson noticing significant improvement in the pitcher since he first came up to the big leagues in late April.
"He's throwing good out of the bullpen, this was something new for him, he's a good looking young player and he's only going to get better," Gibson said. "He seemed to take something out of his first stint up here as a starter."
So what exactly did Corbin work on while he was with Triple-A Reno from the end of May to the end of June?
"Just some command and being more consistent with my breaking pitches," he said. "Now I came up here already comfortable because I had already been up, that helps a lot. It's just a new start."
In addition to performing well on the mound, Corbin also collected a base hit, a walk and scored a run.
The highlight of his night, however, came in the seventh inning when he fielded a ground ball to third base off the bat of Cameron Maybin and threw out Yonder Alonso at second base.
"At first I was waiting for [third baseman Geoff] Blum to call me off but I didn't hear anything," Corbin said. "So I got the ball and I knew Maybin was running fast so I knew I had no shot at first. I looked at second and saw [Aaron] Hill there. I turned and threw it and got lucky to get him out. I don't think I've ever made a play like that, but it helped us out of the inning."
Like Corbin, Gibson had never seen a pitcher make a play like that before either.
"I was just hoping he wasn't going to throw to first but he threw it to second right on the money, pretty good play," Gibson said. "Not many people have the sense or savvy to understand where to go with that. Most people would eat the ball but he surprised the runner."
D-backs honor military on Independence Day
PHOENIX -- To celebrate Independence Day, the D-backs spent nearly half an hour leading up to Wednesday's game honoring military past, present and future.
With a sold-out crowd looking on, 25 families representing each branch of the military lined the outfield grass just beyond the infield to take part in the armed forces appreciation.
Nearly 50 civilians took their oath of enlistment on the right-field warning track, and each branch of the military was represented. After the new service members received their moment, 20 veterans from prior U.S. wars, including World War II, were honored near home plate.
Chief Warrant Officer 2 Mark C. Head of the Arizona Army National Guard sang the national anthem, and one member from each of branch of the military threw out a first pitch simultaneously.
The D-backs and Blue Star Moms also presented three military families with the American flag to honor their lost loved ones.
Throughout the game, fans had the opportunity to purchase grab bags ($50 each) with a 'Mystery Ball' inside of the package signed by a past or present MLB player.
Final Vote nominee Hill continues to deliver
PHOENIX -- His team may have lost its fifth straight game Wednesday, but National League Final Vote candidate Aaron Hill continued to produce for the D-backs.
The second baseman collected a double Wednesday, driving in a run and scoring a run in the D-backs' 8-6 loss.
His hit extended his hitting streak at Chase Field to 19 games, which is tied for the third longest streak in club history.
The 30-year-old also stole a hit and an RBI away from Chase Headley with a nice snag on a ground ball into the hole on the right side of the infield in the ninth inning.
On the season, Hill is batting an even .300 with 11 homers and 39 RBIs.
Hill, a candidate in the All-Star Game Final Vote sponsored by Firestone, is competing against Michael Bourn (Braves), David Freese (Cardinals) and Bryce Harper (Nationals). Voting ends Thursday at 1 p.m. MST.
The D-backs agreed to terms with Evan Marzilli on Wednesday, their eighth-round selection in the 2012 First-Year Player Draft.
An outfielder for South Carolina, Marzilli hit .284 with 20 extra-base hits and 32 RBIs as a junior in 2012. He was named to the College World Series All-Tournament Team in June and the SEC All-Defensive Team.
The club has now signed 14 of its first 15 Draft picks.
Aaron Hill's spikes worn during both cycles he hit for in June have been donated to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y.
The D-backs have hit a home run in 14 straight games, the longest single-season streak in club history.
Tyler Emerick is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.