In the end, it’s possible for manager Kirk Gibson to have his wish.
That is, Gibson has a penchant to play as many players as possible and eschewing the notion of creating a set line-up with a set batting order.
Invariably, he tells reporters that his aspiration is to circulate players and keep them ready and prepared. Now with injured outfielders returning to the lineup and the emergence of talent from the minor leagues, Gibson faces the mission of having his wish to spread playing time among players as well as try and construct a productive lineup.
“I plan to rotate players and try and give everyone playing time,” Gibson said before Saturday’s game with the Cubs in Chase Field. “Guys are coming back and I want to make room.”
When Mark Trumbo went down with a fractured right foot in late April, he missed 72 games and currently, A. J. Pollock is recovering from a broken right hand. Pollock has been out since May 31 and that’s when a pitch from the Reds’ Johnny Cueto landed the D-backs’ cenetrfielder on the disabled list.
The projection is for Pollock to return around August 1 and Trumbo was activated just before the All-Star game.
Their return presents a traffic jam in the gardens. That’s because the Diamondbacks called up outfielders David Peralta on June 1 and Ender Inciarte on April 30 to fill the Trumbo/Pollock void. Both have performed admirably but the edge could be given to Peralta.
Coming into play Saturday, Peralta was hitting .326 (45-for-138) in 37 games and drew the praise of Gibson for his desire to address his defensive game.
“David is here because of his hitting but he is eager to improve his glove,” Gibson said. “He’s quick to learn and wants to learn. We’re working with him on his approach to the ball and proper positioning of his body.”
While Gibson admits Inciarte is a better centerfielder, Peralta, during the absence of Pollock, has patrolled the middle. More suited as a corner outfielder, Peralta will continue to get playing time, Gibson assures, and notes others must be in the mix as well.
That would include Cody Ross, now in the second year of a 3-year, $26 million deal. The Diamondbacks still hope to receive value from the 33-year-old native of Portales, New Mex. Slowed by a dislocated hip sustained his season, Ross has been sluggish to regain a full-time stature but Gibson assures listeners that Ross is very much on the D-backs’ radar screen.
“With Cody, we don’t want to push him too hard,” the manager acknowledged. “He’s still rehabbing and we want to be sure he can be productive.”
That leaves Gerardo Parra essentially as the right fielder of choice but given Gibson desire to spread playing time, it’s likely the manager will create a rotation favorable to his desire “to keep guys fresh.”
MORE ON THE INJURED FRONT
Shortstop Chris Owings, out since June 26 with a left shoulder strain, has been shut down for the next few days.
His rehabilitation program on hold for the foreseeable future, manager Kirk Gibson told reporters before Saturday’s contest with the Cubs that “Owings is close.”
While Gibson offered no immediate timetable for Owings return, the shortstop responsibilities are now divided between Didi Gregorius and Nick Ahmed. At this point, Gregoruis is considered the better hitter and Ahmed the better fielder.
At the time of his injury, Owings led National League rookies in several offensive categories and sported a .277 (66-for-238) batting average with 15 doubles, six triples, six home runs and 21 RBIs.