Great news out of the Cactus League today is that Diamondbacks starting shortstop Stephen Drew has begun fielding grounders and looks to be back on track for a return to the diamond before too long—although whether or not it will be in time for Opening Day will become one of the biggest stories to watch this Spring Training. If he’s not ready, the Diamondbacks will need to turn to Willie Bloomquist–or possibly newly signed John Macdonald–to hold them over until Drew is ready.
As we all know Drew is trying to come back from a horrendous 2011 injury that saw him break his ankle and suffer ligament damage. While it was thought to be a gigantic blow to the D-Backs division hopes, the July 20th injury opened the door for journeyman Bloomquist to hold down the position. Bloomquist performed admirably and the D-Backs, as we all know, rolled to the NL West Division title.
While Bloomquist is best suited as a part-time utility player, he’s shown the ability to be extremely productive in short spurts—however like most utilitymen, he breaks down when used as an everyday player. In 2011, Bloomquist played in 17 of the D-Backs first 20 games. After the first 7 of those games, he was batting a ridiculous .394. Bloomquist cooled—going on a 6 for 30 slump—before being placed on injured reserve for a leg injury.
Similarly, after Drew’s injury in July, Bloomquist stepped up by hitting .357 (10 for 28) in his first 5 games back as an everyday player. However, true to form he slumped to a .247 average the rest of the season (38 for 156). While Bloomquist has virtually no power to speak of—only 17 home runs for a guy who seemed to start playing when balls were hand stitched—he’s got adequate speed and is very versatile in the field. So while he can give the D-Backs a player to fall back on if Drew isn’t ready to start the season, if Bloomquist follows his same career pattern fans had better hope that Drew doesn’t need longer than a handful or so games to return to the field. If he does, the production from the shortstop position will likely drop substantially.
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