Feb 26, 2014; Salt River Pima-Maricopa, AZ, USA; Arizona Diamondbacks shortstop Chris Owings (16) rounds third base and scores during the eighth inning at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick. The Los Angeles Dodgers won the game 4-1Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports
As promised, Arizona Diamondbacks General Manager Kevin Towers and Manager Kirk Gibson announced the team’s Opening Day roster after the final exhibition game against the Chicago Cubs. The announcement put to bed all the tense position battles that have been going on all Spring. While some of the decisions went according to plan, some of the decisions were surprising. Here is the full list:
Backup Catcher: If Henry Blanco wants to play this season, it’s going to have to be with another team. Blanco made it very clear as he was battling for the D’backs’ backup catcher role. Being the model organization that they are, I’m sure the Snakes will try to grant Blanco’s request and if not Blanco is more than happy to become the assistant hitting coach. Meanwhile the job is now Gosewisch’s. This has to be one of the best moments of his life. While he might not play a whole lot this season, it looks like he will be living out the big league dream all season as Montero’s backup. The 30-year old made his Major League debut with the team last season and now he is apart of an Opening Day roster. All I can say is congratulations Tuffy!
Starting Shortstop: Owings has beaten out Didi Gregorius for the starting SS job with Didi being sent down to Triple A Reno. While Gibson said during Spring Training that the position would be decided on defense, it seems like ultimately the offensive gap was to large to ignore. Owings hit .288 with an OPS of .793 coming into yesterday’s game at Chase Field and he showed great plate discipline drawing four walks which was third on the team. In comparison, Gregorius hit .222 and didn’t do much, drawing two walks and hitting no home runs. Time will tell if the D’backs look to trade him or hold on to him as an emergency backup plan. Cliff Pennington will be Owings’s backup. Ultimately, I think it is Owings’s time to shine at the big league level and he showed that this Spring.
Fourth Outfielder: When weighing all the options, the D’backs choose former Cub Campana as the team’s fourth outfielder with Cody Ross starting on the disabled list. Speed matters and Campana can create so much havoc on the basepaths once he gets on. With eight stolen bases in eight tries, he looks to be a great weapon off the bench to create offense late in games when the D’backs need runs to come back or extend a lead. He can steal second and third easily and really distract the pitcher shifting his focus away from the batter. Arizona wants to try to not rely so much on power this year and create some runs and that is what Campana can help with. He won’t get many starts, but he deserves this spot.
The 25th Man: There were several ways the D’backs could have gone for the final roster spot. They could have held on to both Owings and Gregorius but that would have meant carrying three shortstops. Instead, Gibson elected to go with an extra arm in the pen and the Aussie Rowland Smith was the winner. This will be temporary until Ross comes back. The D’backs could have chosen Bo Schultz who had a great Spring but decided to go with Smith. Picking an extra reliever makes perfect sense especially with David Hernandez being out for the year. I am glad that Harris made the team. He had too good of a year last season to be left off. With the addition of Smith, the D’backs will carry three lefties. The one question mark for me is Thatcher. The Snakes signed Perez specifically because they were disappointed in Thatcher’s performance last season and he didn’t do well this spring. I would have gone with Schultz who had an impressive Spring but we shall see how it pans out.