Torey Lovullo, manager of the Arizona Diamondbacks, indicated his infield could be set
With over two months before spring training, it’s possible to suggest the structure of the Arizona Diamondbacks is beginning to take shape.
With the principal discussion of general manager Mike Hazen, on day two of the winter meetings in suburban Washington, D. C., seemed to focus on the value of Dan Haren, hired Tuesday at the club’s new pitching strategist, manager Torey Lovullo was in another part of the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center discussing player personnel.
With nothing etched in stone at this point, Lovullo gave some hints into what his club may appear by opening day. Given the dynamics of trades and free agent signings, circumstances could likely change, but the foundation of the Diamondbacks seems to slide into focus.
Before the winter meetings, one rumor had the Diamondbacks offering third baseman Jake Lamb for a second or third starting pitcher. In his media session Tuesday, Lovullo discounted such a move, and indicated Lamb is penciled in as the Arizona third baseman.
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“I think we are going to look for the primary third baseman to be him at this point in time,” Lovullo was quoted on the Diamondbacks web site. “In a fill-in situation, if there was an extended injury or something, we might explore that. We want to have guys established in one spot at one point in time.”
Lamb’s 2016 power season is not in dispute.
Hitting .249, the native of Seattle smacked 29 homers and drove in 91 runs. Yet, he struck out 154 times in 594 times at the plate, and had difficulty against left-handed pitching. While Lovullo expressed concern, he said the issue is not monumental.
“Lamb’s an everyday player and we know some of the limitations that he had over the past year against left-handed pitching,” Lovullo said. “We are going to address those needs. And that’s something we are going to do as a coaching staff. We want to work and teach and make Jake an everyday player. We are not looking to platoon at this point.”
With Lamb slated at third, Brandon Drury could be the every-day second baseman.
With Jean Segura off to Seattle last month in a deal for pitcher Taijuan Walker, Drury approached his off-season workouts from the vantage of dexterity. Less emphasis on strength and pounds lifting, Drury is proceeding with a lighter weight program as to gain greater flexibility. A natural infielder, Drury was pushed into the outfield by then-manager Chip Hale in an effort to help compensate for the loss of outfielder A. J. Pollock. Now, Lovullo instructed to Drury prepare as an infielder, and a hint that Drury could end up as the Diamondbacks’ everyday second baseman.
At the same time, Lovullo is not conceding the shortstop position to Chris Owings. With incumbent Nick Ahmed recovering from right hip impingement surgery, Owings has stepped forward and his name is rumored on top of the depth chart at shortstop.
“Early conversations with (Ahmed) a couple weeks ago were that he’s exactly where he should be,” Lovullo said. “I had a very similar surgery, so I know what he’s walking through. We shared some common ground. I told him not to rush the process. It’s something where you start to feel really good, really fast, but there’s still some internal healing that’s happening, and you let that take place without over doing it. I gave him some words of wisdom, and as I continue to talk to him, he’s feeling wonderful. He’s able to bend over comfortably and move in any direction. He’s in good shape.”
On Tuesday, the Diamondbacks hired former right-hander Dan Haren in a newly-created position of pitching strategist. While not all the time in uniform, Haren’s role will be the conduit between the amount of information generated by an increasing important analytics department, and the clubhouse.
“Dan will not be a coach, but will be involved in the process of educating our pitchers, education with preparation, information, and those types of things,” said general manager Mike Hazen. “He’ll be working with (coach) Robby Hammock as well on the catching side of things. He brings a natural credibility, a strong playing career and knows how the game is played today. He brings many of those things to life and that’s so important. Certainly, his intelligence was attracted to us right away. Plus, his wit and personality. All of those things add up to what we are hoping to create.”
With Arizona between 2008-2010, Haren was 37-26, a 3.56 ERA in 87 starts. He struck out 200 or more batters in three straight seasons and fanned 192 for the Angels in 2011.
In parts of 13 seasons with St. Louis, Oakland, the Dodgers, the Angels, the Cubs, Miami, Washington and the Diamondbacks, Haren went 153-131 and a 3.75 ERA for 380 major league starts.