HOUSTON -- Jason Kubel said his stiff neck felt much better on Saturday after he missed Friday's game with the condition, but manager Kirk Gibson decided to keep his regular left fielder out of the starting lineup.
Kubel's neck tightened up after he fell asleep sitting up on the D-backs' flight from St. Louis early Friday morning. Gibson said he hopes Kubel can be back in the lineup on Sunday.
"I just made the decision," Gibson said. "I know he feels a lot better today."
Kubel took batting practice and said he would be available off the bench for Saturday's game.
"I'm hoping it keeps progressing like it did last night," Kubel said.
The 30-year-old entered Saturday's game batting .164 in his last 18 games. His 25 home runs ranked third among National League outfielders.
Infielder John McDonald tried some throwing with his sore elbow on Saturday. He hasn't played since Sunday. He was set to start on Thursday in St. Louis, but the elbow bothered him before the first pitch. Gibson replaced McDonald at shortstop with Jake Elmore moments before submitting the lineup card.
The team still doesn't know if McDonald's injury will require a stint on the disabled list. With a doubleheader coming up on Wednesday in Phoenix, the D-backs may need to make a decision on McDonald soon.
"We have five games in four days," Gibson said. "It's not where you want to be short."
Fresh off back-to-back saves, Putz available
HOUSTON -- Closer J.J. Putz hasn't pitched in three consecutive games all season. That didn't mean he was unavailable to throw on Saturday after recording saves on Thursday and Friday, manager Kirk Gibson said.
"I hope he can do that," Gibson said. "We'd like him to pitch a lot more than that in a row."
Putz threw 16 pitches on Thursday against the Cardinals, striking out one of the three batters he faced to finish off a 2-1 D-backs victory. He threw 18 on Saturday, allowing one hit and striking out two for his 24th save of the season.
The last time Putz pitched three days in a row was Aug. 11-13 of last season.
The closer has converted 15 straight saves and 18 of his last 19. He hasn't allowed a run in his last 17 2/3 innings, tied for the fourth-longest streak in the National League. His 0.73 ERA since May 26 ranks fifth among NL relievers with 15 or more appearances since May 26.
Gibson said infielder Willie Bloomquist was progressing nicely in his rehabilitation of a strained lower back. Bloomquist is eligible to come off the disabled list on Friday.
"We want him back as soon as he can, but we want him back healthy, too," Gibson said. "It puts a burden [on you] when you have guys that can't play."
With a day-night doubleheader set for Wednesday against the Marlins, the D-backs are still considering their starting pitching options. The team is allowed to call up a 26th player that day who must return to the Minor Leagues after the doubleheader.
Left-hander Wade Miley, Friday's starter, would be on four days' rest. Prospect Trevor Bauer tossed a complete game for Triple-A Reno on Friday and would also be on regular rest for a start on Wednesday.
Clark Goble is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.