Outfielder Chris Young and shortstop Stephen Drew will appear in an extended spring game today at Salt River Field, a sign that both could be back in the D-Backs lineup soon–and boy, do they need them.
The D-Backs struggled through their 5th consecutive loss yesterday against the defending World Champion St. Louis Cardinals and have dropped 6.5 games behind the Los Angeles Dodgers in the NL West. In the 11 games with Young in the lineup, the Diamondbacks averaged 4.7 runs a game. Since he’s been gone their average has gone down to 3.8 runs a game over 21 games. He’s proving to have been a catalyst to the D-Backs offense that perhaps none of us really realized. Despite playing in barely 1/3rd of the D-Backs games this season, Young still leads the team in home runs (5) and is second in RBI (13).
Meanwhile, the D-Backs really could use some offensive help at shortstop in the form of Stephen Drew. While John McDonald has had an uncharacteristically good start at the plate–he’s batting .310 in 42 plate appearances–he’s simply not a full time offensive player nor a run producer. Willie Bloomquist had his typical start fast, fade faster, performance when pressed into everyday duty. He’s hitting only .209. The duo combined are hitting .241 with 1 home run and 8 RBI. A healthy Drew would give them the stability and offensive production they’ve lacked at the position this season.
In the midst of another extended losing streak, the D-Backs are at risk of falling into a double digit deficit in the division. While history has proven no lead is safe in baseball–especially early–the D-Backs not only have the improved Dodgers, and 2010 World Series champ Giants in their division, but an improved Rockies team. The NL West doesn’t appear to be a two-team race this year and the D-backs will need all the help they can get–Young and Drew are a good start.