Building depth is important to the Arizona Diamondbacks outfield.
The last thing the Arizona Diamondbacks want is a reminder of their sub-par 2016 season. However, with recent stints on the disabled list for both A.J. Pollock and Yasmany Tomas and a brief injury to David Peralta, the Diamondbacks and their fans might be experiencing deja vu.
For starters, Pollock fractured his elbow, which required surgery, in a spring training game just before the 2016 season commenced. He appeared in 12 games starting in late August and then a groin strain ended his season.
In early August last season, David Peralta ran into the outfield wall at Chase Field. It resulted in a season-ending wrist surgery. From mid-April, Peralta suffered from a right issue and that was a result of getting hit on the right wrist by San Francisco reliever Josh Osish on consecutive days.
At same the time, the Diamondbacks were in last place with a 43-65 record. Who’s to say having a healthy outfield would have altered the fourth place finish to the 2016 season?
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The Similarities in #OurSeason
Now, it’s the 2017 season. For the Diamondbacks, it’s #OurSeason and the team is in a tight race for first place in the National League Division, and its not a race they want to lose.
How about some good news? Pollock’s current injury is a right groin strain, not regarded as serious as a fractured elbow. Pollock went on the 10-Day DL on May 15, but he is still rehabbing three weeks later. While Diamondbacks’ GM Mike Hazen said there is no timetable for his return, he is starting a rehab assignment and is looking at a mid- to late June return.
Bad news? Pollock has suffered two groin injuries recently. First, a left groin injury that ended his already short 2016 season. Then, a reaggravated left groin injury in spring training that kept him off the field for approximately two weeks.
In May, the Diamondbacks lost Tomas to right groin tendonitis during the team’s road trip to Pittsburgh, Milwaukke and Miami. The Cuban outfielder was sent to the 10-Day D. Tomas also suffered from back pain during spring training, which an MRI revealed to be an oblique strain. It didn’t keep him from the Opening Day roster, but it’s also a cause for concern.
Though Tomas is on the receiving end of a 6 year/$68.5M contract, he hasn’t produced the results anyone was expecting.
In two major league seasons, the 26-year-old outfielder has not reached a .275 batting average and only combining for 40 HR. Scouts predicted at least a .280 batting average and 25 HR a year.
For other Cuban major leaguers, success has been front-page news , such as Yasiel Puig). This includes All-Star selections in favor of Yoenis Cespedes and MVP votes gathered from Jose Abreu. Tomas hasn’t received any of those accolades.
In right field, Peralta missed a few recent road games to the flu, but he was also sidelined for almost a week with a right glute strain. The 29-year-old Venezuelan told reporter the Arizona Republic, it was “not a big deal.”
Depth Chart Providing Relief
For a team chasing the first-place Colorado Rockies, injuries among all three of the starting outfielders is concerning. With about 100 games left in the season, the Diamondbacks could utilize bench players and rookies to provide some much needed rest. Longer rehabs tend to prevent recurring problems.
Currently, the depth chart includes Gregor Blanco, Chris Herrmann, Jeremy Hazelbaker, Chris Owings and Rey Fuentes as potentials for the outfield.
Starting with the Chris’, Herrmann has seen his share of the DL already. On the other hand, Owings is having himself a potentially All-Star worthy first half, but two-thirds of his at-bats are coming as an infielder, not an outfielder. Hazelbaker earned a spot on the Opening Day roster after being signed as a free agent in December. Often filling in as a pinch hitter, the 29-year-old has a .286 batting average in first 29 at-bats with Arizona in 2017.
The Diamondbacks called up Fuentes, the rookie from Puerto Rico, for the May 15 game against the Mets. Understandable choice considering the 26-year-old owns a .376 batting average in Triple-A. Coming into Friday’s home game with Milwaukee, Fuentes was batting .212 (11-for-52).
Should Fuentes stay cold, the Diamondbacks have another option in Reno. Oswaldo Arcia, a 26-year-old from Venezuela, is currently batting .362 with 14 HR and 61 RBI. He struggled to find a home with a Major League team in 2016, playing for the Twins, Rays, Marlins and Padres before signing with the Diamondbacks as a free agent.
Then, there’s Blanco. The two-time World Series champion was the backup, and eventual sub, for both Melky Cabrera on the Giants’ 2012 roster and Angel Pagan on the 2014 roster.
Currently, Blanco is fighting a jammed thumb that has benched him for three games in the last week. This comes after an oblique injury caused him to miss his chance to be on the Opening Day roster.
The plagued outfield also includes Socrates Brito dislocating his ring finger during spring training and riding the 60-day DL through the 2017 season so far. Brito recently began his rehab assignment, but after batting .179 in 2016 and inactive over a three month period, he will likely stay in Reno for now.
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While the Diamondbacks are surviving the rash of injuries plaguing their outfield, the All-Star break is only a month away. Don’t rush the return of either Tomas nor Pollock. Let the depth chart provide a temporary band-aid to the outfield for a few weeks. Then, rest Peralta and start the second half of the season with the outfield likely at full-health.