The Diamondbacks still have some decisions to make regarding their infield, and it’s apparently not just because they’re waiting to see whether Yasmany Tomas can hack it at third base.
MLB Network’s Peter Gammons wrote Monday that manager Chip Hale “has made it clear” that Nick Ahmed would be the team’s starting shortstop. While Hale later denied any decision had been made, he didn’t dispute the possibility and continued to praise Ahmed.
"To name him the starter is hard to do, because we still have camp left," Hale told MLB.com. "I'm not ready to do that. He's been very impressive. [Gammons] was assuming because of the way we were glowing about [Ahmed]."
That the glove-first Ahmed appears to perhaps have an edge for the shortstop job is a surprise, as it’s been assumed that Chris Owings would have that gig. The news doesn’t doom Owings, though, as general manager Dave Stewart made it clear Monday that the 23-year-old, as long as he’s healthy, will be in the lineup somewhere.
"We knew Owings, if he was healthy, was going to play somewhere," Stewart said. "We knew he was going to be a starter for us."
Owings did get a late start this spring while working his way back from surgery on his left (non-throwing) shoulder, but he appears healthy now, having played in six Cactus League games without any hiccups. Instead of shortstop, his position could be second base, which is where he was stationed during the final month last season. Aaron Hill played a handful of games at third base last September and could man the position regularly if the D’Backs decide to put Owings at second. It’s also possible the club could pull off a late-spring trade of Hill, as they’re known to have shopped him.
An alignment of Ahmed at shortstop, Owings at second base and Hill at third would push Tomas either to the outfield or possibly to Triple-A, which is something Hale previously indicated was a possibility. Tomas has been brutal defensively at the hot corner this spring and it’s hard to see him as a realistic long-term fit for the position.
The biggest loser with Ahmed’s apparent emergence could be Jake Lamb, who most had been assuming would take over at third base should Tomas head to the outfield. Lamb has looked great at the plate and in the field this spring, but he’s just 24 and had only five games of experience at Triple-A before being promoted last season, so the D’Backs could choose to give him a bit more seasoning.
None of this has been decided yet (at least that we know of), so keep refreshing the Rotoworld's player news page for all the latest updates.
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The Rays announced Monday morning that Asdrubal Cabrera would be their Opening Day shortstop. A couple hours after that, his double-play partner suffered an injury that will keep him out of the club’s April 6 lineup.
Nick Franklin felt a twinge in his left side on his last swing of batting practice and, sure enough, a subsequent MRI revealed a strained oblique. Timetables on oblique strains vary, but it’s an ailment that seems likely to sideline Franklin for at least the first week or two of the season.
"I know they don't want to rush it," Franklin told MLB.com. "It's something if you rush it, it can probably end up making it worse. I'm just going based off them."
The Rays had yet to officially anoint Franklin as the starter at second base, but he was expected to, at the very least, platoon with Logan Forsythe. The latter now figures to see the bulk of the starts at the keystone early on in the season.
Franklin has always been intriguing because of the nice offensive numbers he’s put up in the minors. The 24-year-old is a career .284/.361/.450 hitter on the farm and has put up double-digit home run seasons three times and double-digit stolen base seasons four times. He remains an interesting late-round middle infield flier in fantasy leagues despite the injury.
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Travis with a Leg Up at Second?
Maicer Izturis entered Grapefruit League play as the favorite to start at second base for the Blue Jays, but he went down with a right groin strain last Friday and will begin the season on the disabled list. The Jays could now turn to a guy who has never taken a big league at-bat.
John Lott of the National Post wrote Monday that Devon Travis “would appear to have an edge” for the second base job over Ryan Goins. Acquired from the Tigers over the winter in the Anthony Gose deal, Travis is batting .368/.415/.526 this spring for the Jays. That he’s shown well with the stick this spring should come as no surprise, as the 24-year-old has hit everywhere he’s been in the minors, sporting a career .323/.388/.487 batting line. He’s displayed a little pop and speed with double-digit homers and steals each of his two full seasons.
Goins easily has the better glove of the two but looks to be a better fit as a utility option with his plus defense and ability to play shortstop, as well. Travis has some deep league fantasy appeal.
Wieland Could Fill in for Ryu
Joe Wieland was already optioned to minor league camp earlier this month by the Dodgers, but the 25-year-old could now suddenly find himself as a member of the team’s Opening Day rotation.
A starting job has unfortunately opened up as a result of a shoulder injury to Hyun-Jin Ryu, who is out indefinitely, and Wieland is the “leading candidate” to fill the role, according to Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times. Also in the mix for the spot are Mike Bolsinger and Carlos Frias.
Wieland’s success in the minors is undeniable, as he holds a career 3.27 ERA, 1.15 WHIP and 8.4 K/9 across 476 2/3 innings on the farm. Just 85 1/3 of those frames have come over the last three seasons, as the right-hander has undergone a pair of elbow surgeries. He’s healthy now, though, and has recorded nine strikeouts while allowing just one earned run over nine innings this spring.
The Dodgers could choose to seek help outside the organization should Ryu’s shoulder issue prove to be a long-term concern, but for now Wieland looks like a nice stop-gap option.