ATLANTA -- D-backs manager Kirk Gibson called infielder Eric Hinske into his office before batting practice Friday night to let him know he was being designated for assignment in order to make room on the roster for Eric Chavez.
It was not an easy conversation.
"Probably, since I've been managing, it's the toughest one I've ever done," Gibson said. "He was well-liked, loved him, did everything we asked."
Hinske started just three games for the D-backs, and was used extensively as a pinch-hitter.
"I put him in a tough position," Gibson said. "Had 52 at-bats and didn't get any regular playing time, and I asked a lot of him. He gave everything he had. I told him not to be a stranger, and I hope to see him around."
Hinske's days in the Arizona organization may not be over. It's possible that Hinske could accept a Minor League assignment if he clears waivers.
"He was classy about it," Gibson said. "He understands what goes on, but I know when I got released in '92 how it feels. You're just somewhat stunned, somewhat numb and it's not something you ever forget. So while I'm doing it, I remember that day. But you know what? It's up to him. He's got more baseball in him if he chooses to. He's been designated now, and I think he goes on waivers Monday, and then if he clears, then it's possible that he could rejoin our organization in a different capacity."
Unless Hinske is claimed by another team, the D-backs are on the hook for the rest of the $1.35 million contract he signed during the offseason.
Putz returns from DL, gets closer's job back
ATLANTA -- J.J. Putz was back on the D-backs' active roster Saturday and back in his closer's role.
"He's going to close today if the opportunity is there," manager Kirk Gibson said.
Putz had been on the disabled list since May 8 with a strained elbow. Heath Bell was closing in Putz's absence, and he went 13-for-15 in save opportunities over that stretch.
"I think the bullpen did a great job," Putz said of his time away. "They definitely had some ups and downs, but I think Heath did a really good job nailing it down in the ninth. Everybody wants to make a big thing about the fact that he was giving up runs, but his save percentage was pretty good."
The one hesitation that Gibson has with Putz initially is in using him in back-to-back games.
"If he throws to one hitter today and he throws five pitches, then yeah, he'd be available tomorrow," Gibson said in explaining how he plans to use Putz. "But if he throws an inning and it's 18 or 20 pitches, he's not going to be available the next day. For now. We've got to build him up. You can't just exhaust the guy."
Putz was 2-1 with a 4.26 ERA and five saves when he was placed on the DL.
Chavez ready to go despite quick rehab stint
ATLANTA -- D-backs third baseman Eric Chavez was back on the active roster Friday, sooner than expected, but ready nonetheless.
"A little earlier, but I think with some of the injuries and stuff, I think it was probably the right time to come back," Chavez said.
Chavez appeared in three games for Triple-A Reno during his rehab assignment. Initially, the club planned on having him play more, but D-backs general manager Kevin Towers was impressed with what he saw out of Chavez on Wednesday and expedited the timetable.
That was fine with Chavez, who was reticent about testing his strained oblique at the start of his rehab, but had no such concerns at the end.
"I was real apprehensive, just a lot of doubt," Chavez said of his first game. "The day before I was coming here, I had a check swing and that was really kind of what I was waiting for to see how I felt, and I didn't feel anything."
Chavez arrived just before game time Friday and was in the starting lineup at third base on Saturday. He could also see time at first when -- or if -- Paul Goldschmidt is given a day off.
Steve Gilbert is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Inside the D-backs, and follow him on Twitter @SteveGilbertMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.