The final transition is not excepted to be cumbersome nor awkward.
Given Martin Prado’s personality, his laid-back nature and easy-going qualities, his adjustment to the Diamondbacks is considered effortless and natural.
Given the relationships he cultivated with fellow countrymen and new teammates Gerardo Parra and Miguel Montero, familiarity of the National League and his love of the game, Prado appears to fit comfortably into the Diamondbacks’ culture and line-up.
“It’s a process,” he said after a recent spring training game. “I knew some of the guys here and it was easy for me to fit in. I’m an easy going guy and I adjust to any situation.”
When the Diamondbacks acquired Prado from the Braves in exchange for Justin Upton, they did so with the expectation of filling a gaping hole at third base. Since Mark Reynolds, and his penchant for striking out was dealt a few years ago, the Diamondbacks could not settle on a third baseman. The most frequent visitor was Ryan Roberts, but after his production fell early last season, he was eventually traded to the Rays.
Additional experiments with Josh Bell, Melvin Mora, Ryan Roberts, Chris Johnson, Ryan Wheeler, Cody Ranson and Sean Burroughs all at the “hot corner” were abysmal failures, and, in an attempt to secure the future as well as put production in the lineup, the Diamondbacks were able to acquire Prado.
In a deal in which two players seemingly were forgotten by their respective teams, the Diamondbacks wanted to unload Upton and the Braves could not accommodate Prado in his quest for a multi-year deal.
When the trade was made on Jan. 24, the Diamondbacks secured their third baseman of the future, and recognized the caliber of player they acquired. Immediately, general manager Kevin Towers inked Prado to a four year, $40 million contract.
Prado arrives in the desert with a productive resume.
Last season, the 29 year-old native of Maracay, Venezuela was first among National League hitters in multi-hit games, fourth in hits and fifth in doubles. In parts of seven seasons with the Braves, Prado has a career .295 average with 752 hits, 168 career doubles, 52 home runs and 238 RBIs.
Plus, his versatility was well-documented.
Penciled in as the D-backs everyday third baseman, Prado can also play other infield positions as well as the outfield. Last season, he started at four different positions for the Braves in four straight games. From Aug. 23-26, he started in leftfield, shortstop, third base and second base and became the first Atlanta player to do so since Jerry Royster in 1984.
Coming off experience in the World Baseball Classic for Team Venezuela, Prado played left field. That was after the opening weeks of the spring working at third for the Diamondbacks.
As the season progresses, Prado pointed out, “I’ll have more time to with (coach Matt) Williams” on honing skills around the bag at third.
In the meantime, Prado’s affinity for playing the game and hanging around the ball park immediately caught manager Kirk Gibson’s attention.
“He wants to play all the time,” Gibson said. “He likes to play and likes his at-bats. You can tell he’s a professional and makes demands on himself.”
For his part, Prado said the adjustment to his new team is smooth and efficient.
“I see myself playing different positions,” he said. “The guys here welcomed me and, like I said, I knew a few guys. Yes, things are going good.”
The only question with Prado remains his position in the batting order. Through Gibson’s line-up here in spring training, Prado has hit out of the two hole and second baseman Aaron Hill behind.
The jury is still out on Hill hitting in third, but Hill’s monster season of last year (.302, 44 doubles, 26 home runs, 85 RBIs and hitting for the cycle twice) suggests he could be suited in this power slot.
KUDOS FOR CAHILL
Right-hander Trevor Cahill turned in his best outing of the spring Sunday by limiting the Dodgers to one hit and striking out four in an impressive five inning outing.
In the process, the D-backs picked up 9-1 victory over the Dodgers before a Salt River Fields record crowd of 12,809.
Over the past off-season, Cahill took 20 pounds off his frame, began a healthy diet and exercised discipline.
Last season, the 25 year-old out of Oceanside, Calif was listed at 6-4 and 225 pounds. A slimmer, trimmer Cahill arrived at Salt River this spring with an entirely new outlook.
“At the end of last season, we asked a few things out of him and he’s responded,’ said manager Kirk Gibson before Sunday’s game. “This is something we hope can have a long-lasting effect.”
With a trimmed down Cahill, Gibson said he has noticed a significant change.
“We put him in a position to have greater endurance,” Gibson added. “We hope that means a 20 win season and pitching more than 200 innings. He has great stuff, his ball constantly moves, and with this new emphasis, we hope to get more out of him.”
Last season, Cahill went 13-12, 3.78 ERA and exactly 200 innings pitched.
BACK FROM THE WBC
With the United States eliminated in the World Baseball Classic, infielder Willie Bloomquist and pitchers Heath Bell and David Hernandez returned to camp.
While the experience playing for Team USA was exhilarating, the outcome was disappointed. The U. S. lost to the Dominion Republic in the opening game of the second round and then knocked out by the strong pitching performance of teammate Nelson Figueroa, who shut the door for Puerto Rico in a 4-3 loss the United States possession last Friday night.
“It was a great experience and the fans were definitely intense,” Hernandez said Sunday morning in the Diamondbacks clubhouse. “Looks like on the Caribbean islands, they take their baseball very seriously.”
For the collective effort, D-backs players did not make a significant contribution.
Bloomquist appeared in two games, went 0-for-2 and a one run scored. Bell was called into two games, went 1-0 with two scoreless innings. Hernandez appeared in two games, surrendered four hits in 1.2 innings,allowed one run and finished with a 5.40 ERA.
Afterwards, Hernandez had an easy explanation for third U. S. demise in as many World Baseball Classics.
“I didn’t get the big hit when we needed,” he said. “Our hitters never got locked in and we didn’t exceed expectations. We never gave our fans anything to cheer about.”