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MLB: Arizona Diamondbacks at San Diego PadresJun 8, 2024; San Diego, California, USA; San Diego Padres catcher Kyle Higashioka (20) is congratulated by Tim Leiper (33) after he hit a solo home run during the sixth inning against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Petco Park. Mandatory Credit: Denis Poroy-USA TODAY Sports at Petco Park.

While Manny Machado has just one at-bat since Wednesday, the result of a hip flexor strain that has sidelined him, the San Diego Padres brass feel their star third baseman will be able to avoid the injured list.

But they don’t know if they’ll be able to pencil him into the lineup for Sunday’s finale of a four-game series against the visiting Arizona Diamondbacks.

Arizona won the opener Thursday, 4-3, but San Diego certainly hasn’t needed him the past two nights en route to 10-3 and 13-1 wins. Its offense erupted for 14 hits in each game, including three homers on Friday night and three-run blasts from Ha-Seong Kim and Jake Cronenworth on Saturday.

However, the Padres certainly won’t waste a chance to insert Machado back into the lineup. And as batting practice Saturday showed, he might be close to a return. He launched three straight long homers, including one off the facing of the second deck in left-center field.

“It’s a complete balancing act,” San Diego manager Mike Shildt said about returning an injured player to the lineup. “We need to figure out if you can go ahead in a major league game and do all the things that are required and all the movements, but you don’t want to aggravate it.

“It’s just time is required. And you always want to listen to the player and Manny’s got experience to help us out.”

Shildt added that Machado likely will serve as a designated hitter when he’s able to return to the lineup, with Donovan Solano or Tyler Wade playing at third base.

The Padres will vie for a series win behind rookie Adam Mazur (0-0, 1.50 ERA), who pitched well in his major-league debut despite the team’s 4-2 loss Tuesday night at the Los Angeles Angels. Mazur permitted just one run on two hits while walking four batters in six innings.

While San Diego will try to get back above the .500 mark, Arizona is seeking a split of the four-game series. A recent streak of short starts and injuries have shredded the starting rotation, with right-hander Scott McGough (1-3, 6.35) in line to serve as the opener on Sunday.

“This happens in baseball,” Diamondbacks manager Torey Lovullo said. “We lost a couple games in a row. We can salvage a series (on Sunday) and that’s what our expectation will be.”

McGough is 0-1 with a 7.45 ERA in eight career appearances (one start) against the Padres.

The Diamondbacks’ bullpen has had to cover 12 innings in the series. Starter Slade Cecconi lasted only 4 1/3 innings on Thursday night and Ryne Nelson was knocked out after 3 1/3 innings Saturday night.

There are other injury concerns for Arizona. Second baseman Ketel Marte was scratched from Saturday night’s lineup with a back injury and catcher Gabriel Moreno was sidelined with an illness. Marte could be available on Sunday but Moreno’s status isn’t known.

San Diego leads the season series 4-2 and has outscored the Diamondbacks 50-21.

–Field Level Media

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