PHOENIX -- D-backs closer J.J. Putz has begun playing catch, but the closer knows that he still has a ways to go before he's able to pitch again.
Putz was placed on the disabled list with a sprained ulnar collateral ligament on May 8 and recently began playing catch from 90 feet.
"It feels really good," Putz said. "It's fun to watch the team win, but it's hard to not be out there competing with the guys."
The D-backs have stayed away from putting a timetable on a possible return for Putz.
"It's still too far out to even like figure out games and stuff," Putz said. "But we're definitely progressing in the right direction."
Heath Bell has done a nice job in the closer's role since Putz got hurt.
"They're playing well right now, so hopefully I can be like a big acquisition at some point," Putz said.
Skaggs returns to Triple-A Reno with renewed poise
PHOENIX -- Tyler Skaggs' stay in the big leagues this time was short, but he and the team were both better for it.
Skaggs was added to the roster as the 26th man for Monday's day-night doubleheader against the Rangers and pitched to the D-backs to a 5-3 win.
By rule, Skaggs had to be returned to Triple-A Reno following the second game of the doubleheader, but as he shook hands with his teammates and walked out of the clubhouse with his Reno Aces equipment bag over his shoulder, he left behind a positive impression.
Skaggs allowed just three hits and struck out nine while tossing six shutout innings.
"Happy that they called me up and had the confidence in me to start the ballgame," Skaggs said. "So hopefully I opened up a few eyes."
After a rough spring in which he pitched poorly and lost out in his bid for the No. 5 spot in the rotation, Skaggs has gotten himself back on track recently in Reno.
While the D-backs are not in need of a starter right now -- and they also have Daniel Hudson slated to come back from Tommy John surgery in a month or so -- manager Kirk Gibson said Monday's outing by Skaggs was "the best scenario for us."
First, the D-backs got an outstanding start that led to a win, while at the same time Skaggs got a confidence boost that he can continue to build on in Reno and be ready should the D-backs have a need.
"I was already confident coming in and it just raises it up a little more," Skaggs said.
Prado quickly recovering from slow start
PHOENIX -- Martin Prado knew he had not forgotten how to hit, but the D-backs infielder is certainly relieved to be swinging the bat better.
In his previous two games heading into Game 1 of Monday's doubleheader against the Rangers, Prado collected seven hits in eight at-bats.
"I don't think this has happened to me in the past, this kind of rough streak," Prado said of his slow start. "Everybody in this clubhouse has given me support and told me they know what kind of ballplayer I am and know I can do it. That made me feel good. I'm starting to feel better and starting to get the confidence back and the most important thing is just to try and keep having fun."
Prado said he was most proud of the fact that despite his struggles he was able to maintain a positive attitude in the clubhouse rather than sulk or pout about his personal statistics.
Experience, he said, is the key to dealing with the downturns and finding a way out.
"I'm a good hitter, right, so I'm going to be a good hitter my whole career?" Prado said of what a younger player might think. "That's not going to happen. You're going to have ups and downs, but you're going to know how to handle the downs. When you're up, you don't even think about it. But when you're down, how fast can you recover from that? It's a process."
Nieves thriving in part-time role
PHOENIX -- Wil Nieves knew when he signed with the D-backs that he would not get a lot of playing time as a backup to catcher Miguel Montero.
That might have been difficult for Nieves to accept a couple of years ago, but now with some experience, he's learned to embrace the role and have success in it.
"The older I get, I've learned not to put pressure on myself," Nieves said. "When I was younger, I was trying to prove to everybody that I could be an everyday catcher. So when I would get a chance to play, I would try to make stuff happen and try and go 4-for-4 and by the end of the day I would be 0-for-4. I was just hurting myself."
Nieves has played well in a part-time role this year. Coming into Mondays' first game of a doubleheader against the Rangers, he was hitting .333 in 30 at-bats.
"Now I know what my role is," Nieves said. "I know I'm a backup. I know I can play every day if something happens, but I know right now my job is just to be ready whenever they need me. I'm just having fun out there. I've always been a good hitter when I played every day, so now I've learned how to be a good hitter playing once a week or once every two weeks."
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.