The Diamondbacks are now eleven games (5-6) deep in spring training and we are seeing some encouraging things out in Scottsdale with Opening Day just a few weeks away.
Cliff Pennington, our shortstop who I have consistently dogged on, has kicked off his first spring with the D’backs very well hitting safely in seven of his sixteen at bats (.438) while walking five times and scoring seven runs.
Shortstop Cliff Pennington (4) at bat against the Cincinnati Reds in the third inning during a spring training game at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick. Image: Rick Scuteri-USA TODAY Sports
Both Ian Kennedy and Tyler Skaggs put together three scoreless innings a piece on Tuesday evening against the Mexican team for the World Baseball Classic. This is especially promising for Skaggs who struggled in his first two appearances this spring.
There’s a healthy battle between Rod Barajas and Wil Nieves for a spot on the roster as Miguel Montero’s backup. The same goes for the starting shortstop position although I would suspect that that won’t be any one players’ spot for much of the season.
Tonight’s outing by Skaggs adds to the allure in finding out who the fifth man in the rotation will be and the pressure will now be on Randall Delgado who has struggled early on allowing five runs on nine hits through just three innings.
The team is also being afforded the opportunity to play a few of their spring training invitees more than what they would normally be allotted. With Willie Bloomquist, Miguel Montero, Gerardo Parra, Martin Prado, David Hernandez and Heath Bell all gone to play with the respective countries for the WBC, the club is able to give guys like outfielders AJ Pollock and Tony Campana more at bats. Pitching prospects Chase Anderson and Charles Brewer have also benefited early on from extended playing time.
On top of these players being away from the team, we are also seeing some minor injury bugs slowing down starters Aaron Hill and Cody Ross. Hill claims he is healthy enough to be a full participant but Gibson says he is being extra cautious as it’s only the first week of March.
With Ross, it was announced today that he will be sidelined at least two weeks with a calf strain he has been nursing. Luckily, the injury will still allow him to throw and take batting practice. If the strain heals correctly it shouldn’t cost the new outfielder much, if any, time in the regular season due to kick off on April 1st.
So while it is way too early to really gather much substance in predicting what the Diamondbacks may have in store for us, there are definitely some things coming out of camp that are encouraging from a fans perspective.
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