Arizona diamondbacks: D-backs facing questions as season approaches

2013-03-25T00:00:00Z Arizona diamondbacks: D-backs facing questions as season approachesNick Piecoro The Arizona Republic Arizona Daily Star
March 25, 2013 12:00 am  • 

SCOTTSDALE - The final week of spring training is usually a time for fine-tuning the roster, for deciding on the last bench player or settling on a reliever to round out the bullpen.

The Arizona Diamondbacks wish they had it so easy. Instead, one week before his club will open the season against the St. Louis Cardinals, manager Kirk Gibson said he doesn't know who his leadoff man will be. He doesn't know who will be playing center field or right field.

And he doesn't know if left-hander Wade Miley, who last season was the team's best starting pitcher, will be in his rotation to open the year.

Much of the uncertainty is a result of the loss of Adam Eaton, the high-energy rookie who was expected to man center field and hit at the top of the Diamondbacks order. But Eaton was diagnosed with an elbow strain last week and won't throw a baseball for a month, and general manager Kevin Towers said Eaton might not return until June.

Then there's the calf injury that has bothered outfielder Cody Ross for most of the spring. Though Ross said Sunday he was still aiming to be ready by Opening Day, both he and Gibson acknowledged that the most important thing is for him not to suffer a setback, and if that means missing the first few days, or perhaps the first week, of the season, then so be it.

With his outfield in disarray, Gibson has decisions to make. The good news, though, is that his deep and versatile roster gives him options.

With Eaton certain to start on the disabled list, outfielder A.J. Pollock is the most likely player to replace him on the roster. That would give Gibson three primary outfielders - Jason Kubel, Gerardo Parra and Pollock - and two others in Martin Prado and Willie Bloomquist who could be options in the outfield, as well.

Should Prado see time in the outfield, it would open up third base for Eric Chavez, although Chavez said earlier this spring that he isn't capable of playing more than three or four days in a row.

Bouncing between positions during the season is nothing new for Prado, who did it throughout his career with the Atlanta Braves.

"I think that's been part of my role for a few years," he said. "I feel when I'm a part of any team, people see me as a guy that we can trust or that we can put up there and he'll do the job playing any position. I don't mind at all. We just want to put the best team out there and give our team a better chance to win."

Gibson said that in games when Parra and Pollock are both playing, he'd prefer Pollock in center field, in part because he views Parra's defense in a corner outfield spot to be a game-changer. But if Prado is in left and Kubel in right, Gibson would use Parra in center.

If Ross isn't ready to start the season, Gibson said the club will decide between speedster Tony Campana and prospect Alfredo Marte, who was brought back to big-league camp last week after Eaton's injury was disclosed.

The leadoff spot might be the biggest void Eaton's absence will create. No one else on the roster has the kind of skill-set that so obviously lends itself to that role. But Gibson mentioned Parra, Pollock, Bloomquist and even Prado as possibilities.

"We'll just piece our way through it," Gibson said. "We're going to try to figure that out in the upcoming days, but we do have a week."

Up next

• Who: Angels vs. Diamondbacks

• Where: Scottsdale

• When: 7:10 p.m. Tuesday

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