As we mentioned earlier in the month, the Diamondbacks had a plan to shake up who played what position in the infield, and they are staring to do that now that we have reached the final month of the season. With the Dbacks out of the playoff picture, it doesn’t hurt for the Diamondbacks to experiment and evaluate players at different positions. This will give the team a better idea of who is valuable.
When Chris Owings came back on Tuesday, Diamondbacks Manager Kirk Gibson, and General Manager Kirk Gibson had to figure out how to get Aaron Hill, Owings, and Didi Gregorius adequate playing time. For the longest time I liked the idea of Didi playing second, and Owings playing SS, and it made a lot of sense. Even though Didi has played most of the year at SS, when he was in Reno in April, he played a lot of second base, and it went well.
Despite this, Towers prefers Gregorius to play shortstop, and Owings to play second base, and that is what you have seen so far when both of them have been on the field. This is what Towers told Steve Gilbert of MLB.com:
“In a perfect world, long term, I think hopefully it’s Didi and C.O. with Hilly kind of moving around from second to third,” D-backs general manager Kevin Towers said Wednesday. “My gut is that I think it will work. I love both of those guys. Didi is probably our best shortstop defensively. C.O. is probably the best offensive middle infielder we have. He seems to be comfortable at second. We’ll have a chance to see him a lot in September and see how he looks.”
Its not set in stone yet, but it’s looking more and more like the opening day middle infield will be Owings at second and Didi at SS. What Towers said actually makes a lot of sense. Typically you want the better defensive player to play SS because it requires more range. Didi is clearly the better defender, and Chris is the better offensive player. Plus Owings has looked good at second.
The biggest question in all of this is the future of veteran Aaron Hill. After a silver slugger season in 2011, Hill has struggled to stay healthy in the last three seasons including this year, and he just hasn’t been the same player. In tonight’s Dbacks Padres game, Arizona got their first look at Hill at third.
Hill hasn’t played third since his rookie season with the Blue Jays in 2005, but he has said he doesn’t mind playing different positions. This is what he told Gilbert about playing the hot corner again.
“It’s been nine years, but I remember enjoying it just because it’s a reactive position,” Hill said. “Everything happens a little faster over there. The biggest thing for me is going to be to get my legs moving towards first or towards my target, and that’s what we’ve been working on.”
While Hill doesn’t mind being versatile, he made it pretty clear that he doesn’t want to be a utility player:
“I’m not turning into a utility man,” Hill said. “If they think that’s the best thing for the team, that’s great, but my opinion is I’m not ready to be a utility man yet. I can be very versatile here and that’s great, but to be labeled a utility man, I don’t think I’m ready for that yet.”
Hill is owed 12 million over the next two seasons which really complicates things. They can’t simply get rid of him, but if he doesn’t agree to be a utility man, the Snakes could look to trade him. That is all dependent on if the Dbacks think Jake Lamb is ready to start every day at the big league level.
This is defiantly something to watch for during the final month, and it will be interesting to see what the team does in the offseason.