Manager Torey Lovullo of the Arizona Diamondbacks pairs down his roster.
Manager Torey Lovullo of the Arizona Diamondbacks promised he would have his roster pretty much settled just before the end of spring training. Avoiding what Lovullo told Venom Strikes as “a fire drill,” the expectations was to provide players with a comfort level and sense of ease.
With several personnel moves made before Tuesday’s game with the Seattle Mariners, Lovullo and Arizona decision-makers still must reduce their opening day roster by five players. While the roster now sits at 30 players, Lovullo indicated to Venom Strikes that further decisions would be difficult.
Beginning with the bullpen, the Diamondbacks elevated right-hander Tom Wilhelmsen and left-hander Jorge De La Rosa to the 40-man roster and indicated that both made the opening day roster. After the announcement, Lovullo told Venom Strikes the reasoning behind these decisions.
"Both are deserving of making the team. For De La Rosa, he showed a good transition to the bullpen and adjusted well to pitching out of the bull pen. Wilhelmsen has shown wipe-out stuff and very consistent."
At the same, Lovullo pointed out to Venom Strikes that Wilhelmsen, because of what he showed in spring contests (0.96 ERA in nine appearances), could also close games. For now, Wilhelmsen and De La Rosa will be used in the sixth, seventh and eighth innings, and Lovullo told Venom Strikes before Tuesday’s game that specific roles for relievers will be determined.
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That leaves two openings in the bullpen. Andrew Chafin once thought as secure, is now on the bubble. That shift resulted when Lovullo moved De La Rosa to the opening day roster. With Chafin, Silvino Bracho, J. J. Hoover and T. J. McFarland still in camp, these four remain in the mix for the pair of open roster spots.
At the same time, the Diamondbacks’ shortstop situation is now clear.
Before Tuesday’s game, the team optioned shortstop Ketel Marte, acquired in the Taijuan Walker trade with Seattle during the past off-season, to Triple-A Reno.
Because both Chris Owings and Nick Ahmed will share time at shortstop, Lovullo pointed out that neither is considered “the starter.” Explaining to Venom Strikes that there is no determination on playing time for each, Lovullo said Owings and Ahmed would not sit for any considerable periods of time.
"At this point, I’m not defining playing time. Both made the team and there will not be consistent sitting on the bench."
In other moves, the Diamondbacks signed Gregor Blanco to a minor-league contract and assigned the veteran outfielder to Reno. Outfielder Socrates Brito, out with a broken hand, was placed on the 60-day disabled list.
In Blanco’s case, the Diamondbacks will watch him closely. Toward the end of camp, Blanco sustained an oblique strain and that injury typically takes about a month to heal. Lovullo told Venom Strikes that Blanco would be monitored carefully and determination on his playing time made accordingly.
The latest transaction
Before Tuesday’s game with Seattle, the Diamondbacks claimed infielder Christian Walker off waivers from the Cincinnati Reds and designated right-hander Evan Marshall for assignment.
Walker, at 26-years-old, hit .264 (133-for-504) with 29 doubles, 18 home runs, 64 RBI and in 131 games with Triple-A Norfolk in 2016. He also appeared in 13 games with the Baltimore Orioles from 2014-15.
The Diamondbacks have ten days to make a deal for Marshall, or he becomes a free agent.
On the diamond
Zack Greinke, declared the Diamondbacks’ opening day pitcher, prepared for that task with four innings of work, allowed six hits and three earned runs Tuesday against Seattle. Afterward, Greinke told Venom Strikes he is ready for the season to begin.
"You’re rusty when spring training begins. I’ve smooth things out and feel comfortable. As the season moves along, just want to get better."
Powered by home runs from Brandon Drury, Kristopher Negron, A. J. Pollock, Jake Lamb, David Peralta and a grand slam in the ninth from minor leaguer Marty Herum, the Arizona Diamondbacks defeated the Seattle Mariners, 15-6 before 6,546 at the Peoria Sports Complex. The 15 runs were the most in a game this spring. The win evened the Diamondbacks’ spring record at 13-13-2.
For the record, the team mark for most homers in one game (regular season) is six and achieved four times. The last time that happened was on June 17, 2016, against the Philadelphia Phillies at Citizens Bank Park.
The Diamondbacks have Wednesday off and finish their spring training slate with a pair of games against the Cleveland Indians at Chase Field. Each game will start at 6:40 p.m.
On Thursday night, Taijuan Walker gets the start and the Indians send right-hander Josh Tomlin to the hill. For Friday night, Robbie Ray starts for Arizona and Cleveland manager Terry Francona has not named his starter.