SAN DIEGO -- It didn't lead to a spot in the starting lineup, but the D-backs' Adam LaRoche did make progress Sunday as he tries to recover from a right quadriceps muscle problem that has dogged him since Wednesday.
LaRoche did agility drills and some running in the outfield Sunday morning.
"He looked better than I anticipated, to be honest," D-backs manager A.J. Hinch said. "I was encouraged by how he felt. I think mentally for him, it was good to get out and give it a little test. I'm hoping today is the last day and he'll be back in the starting lineup [Monday], but I'm encouraged by the progress we've made."
LaRoche has been available to hit and has been in the on-deck circle in each of the last two games, but did not get to the plate.
The injury does not affect him when he swings, only when he runs.
Outfielder Jackson injures hamstring
SAN DIEGO -- The D-backs may get first baseman Adam LaRoche back in the lineup Monday, but they will likely be without the services of Conor Jackson.
The left fielder injured his right hamstring when he ran in to catch Will Venable's fly ball to end the disastrous seventh inning against the Padres on Sunday.
Jackson will be examined in Phoenix on Monday, but neither he nor manager A.J. Hinch sounded overly optimistic about his chances of being in the lineup against the Cardinals.
"I don't think Conor's going to be able to go," Hinch said. "We'll know more [Monday]."
LaRoche, who has not started the past four games with a right quadriceps muscle issue, pinch-hit and struck out looking to end Sunday's game.
Bullpen struggling with control
SAN DIEGO -- D-backs manager A.J. Hinch had breakfast with a few members of his bullpen Sunday.
Pitching coach Mel Stottlemyre Jr. has had his own conversations with them both individually and as a group.
The message from both is the same: The walks, particularly the leadoff ones, are unacceptable.
"The walks in the bullpen have really hurt us recently," Hinch said. "It's a mentality and an aggressiveness that we've lacked. I feel like we have been tentative and it's not something I would have anticipated with this group. I don't think it's anything to make a big deal out of yet, but I think we need to get our edge back and our conviction back in what we're doing."
The D-backs watched a 3-1 lead as well as a ninth-inning 5-3 advantage slip away against the Dodgers on Thursday, and the following night, the bullpen allowed the Padres to score four runs in the ninth inning.
The key rallies in both those games started with a leadoff walk.
"If you take the walks out of it, we probably have two more wins," Stottlemyre said.
Benson earns another start
SAN DIEGO -- Kris Benson's start against the Padres on Saturday will not be his last.
Benson, who had his contract purchased from Triple-A Reno to make the start, will also get the nod Friday against the Phillies. With an off-day Thursday, the D-backs could have skipped Benson's turn in the rotation.
"He pitched very well last night," D-backs manager A.J. Hinch said. "I thought he minimized the damage as well as he could."
Benson pitched out of bases-loaded jams in both the first and second innings and wound up allowing just two runs in six innings of work.
"I don't feel like I'm 100 percent back yet, but I feel pretty good where I'm at right now," said Benson, who had shoulder and elbow surgery in 2007. "I think I have a couple more miles an hour in my shoulder. I just have to get into a routine and get out there every five days and be in one spot and just get into a routine. That's what it all boils down to."
It appears he will get that opportunity.
Tough stretch coming up for D-backs
SAN DIEGO -- The road for the D-backs gets a little tougher in the next two weeks.
Monday, the D-backs begin a stretch of games where they will face the Cardinals, Phillies, Rockies and Cubs, four teams that are expected to compete for playoff berths.
If there is a bit of a break, it comes right after that with four games against the Astros. Those contests, however, come at the tail end of an 11-game road trip.
"It is what it is," D-backs manager A.J. Hinch said. "This game isn't meant to be played by anybody weak-minded."
Steve Gilbert is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.