Recent trades and a debilitating injury have forced the Diamondbacks into drastic line-up alterations.
When first baseman Paul Goldschmidt broke his left hand hit by a pitched ball late in Friday night’s game with the Pirates, that event set in motion a domino effect. Now, manager Kirk Gibson is forced to juggle his line-up, push the right buttons to assure production and give players adequate playing time.
Just one week ago, Gibson said he was pretty much set with personnel rotation and the general routine of his line-up.
Then, the Diamondbacks traded outfielder Gerardo Parra to the Brewers and infielder Martin Prado to the Yankees late Thursday afternoon at the trading deadline. That represented the departure of two regulars and the Goldschmidt injury followed.
In rapid time, Gibson now has to fit essentially two minor league players, Andy Marte and Alfredo Marte recalled from Triple-A Reno into his line-up, and find an adequate replacement for Goldschmidt.
“Goldschmidt was 30 percent of our offense and that’s a sizable loss,” Gibson said prior to Sunday’s game with the Pirates. “While you hate to lose that kind player and production, this also presents a great opportunity for guys to step forward.”
While discussing personnel options, Gibson took a moment to reflect on the loss of Goldschmidt.
“There’s no surgery and the fracture is considered a small one,” Gibson indicated. “So, no plates, no screws but it is an eight week recovery. So, he’s done.”
On Saturday, the first day of the post-Goldschmidt injury period, Gibson put journeyman Jordan Pacheco at first. At the same time, Gibson told reporters that Mark Trumbo, who played the majority of games previously at the major league with the Angles at first base, began taking ground balls at first.
For Sunday’s game against Pirates’ lefty Francisco Liriano, Trumbo was at first base and hitting clean-up in Gibson’s batting order.
“Going forward, I think that’s how we’ll proceed,” Gibson said of his decision to start Trumbo at first. “It’s hard to replace (Goldschmidt) but one of the main options is for Trumbo to stay at first.”
By coming into the infield, Trumbo vacates left field, a position he’s played for Arizona since opening day March 22 in Sydney, Australia.
Beginning with Sunday’s game against Pittsburgh, Gibson had four outfielders, David Peralta, Ender Inciarte, Roger Kieschnick and Alfredo Marte on the roster. Trumbo would be the fifth outfielder and Gibson indicated the team hopes for a quick return from outfielder Cody Ross, out since July 22 with a left calf strain.
“Cody is some time away,” Gibson said. “He’s feeling better but way off. He’s been great as a pinch hitter and we would love to have him in there. Right now, we’re in need of reinforcements.”
At the same time, Gibson said he’s not sure how the outfield rotation will be constructed. At this point, there appears no set pattern and Gibson said he has yet to determine playing time for certain players against either right-handed or left-handed pitchers.
With Prado traded, the position of third base, as well, comes under the microscope.
During infield practice before Sunday’s game, Andy Marte, Didi Gregorius and Pacheco fielded ground balls. Gibson said he is satisfied with this trio for the moment and indicated versatile infielder Cliff Pennington, now rehabbing at Reno for a sprained ligament to his left thumb that landed him in the DL June 2, could return within the next week.
Pacheco was in the starting line-up Sunday at third and hit second.
At the same time, this discussion does not involve Jake Lamb, who led the Southern League at Double-AA Mobile in batting average and RBIs and just promoted to Triple-A Reno. While the Diamondbacks like Lamb a great deal, he is likely an after-thought in this conversation but could be a September call-up at third base.
In his first two games at the Triple-A level, Lamb went 4-for-6, .667 average with a double and home run.
FALL LEAGUE UPDATE
Construction of the 2014 Arizona Fall League began.
Considered “the graduate school” for top prospects, the league represents a showcase for players to take a significant step from minor league production to the major league level.
While all 30 teams are represented and the league is owned and operated by Major League Baseball, six teams are established in this league, three in the East Division and three in the West Division.
Breakdown of the teams was announced Sunday and play is slated to begin in early October.
In the East Division, the teams are the Mesa Solar Sox (made of representatives from the Cubs, Angels, A’s, Blue Jays, Nationals), the Salt River Rafters (Diamondbacks, Rockies, Astros, Marlins, Twins) and the Scottsdale Scorpions (Mets, Yankees, Phillies, Pirates, Giants).
In the West Division, the teams are the Glendale Desert Dogs (Orioles, White Sox, Tigers, Dodgers, Brewers), the Peoria Javelinas (Braves, Indians, Royals, Cardinals, Rays) and the Surprise Saguaros (Red Sox, Reds, Padres, Mariners, Rangers).
Teams will home their home games at spring training sites around the Valley. These locations include Cubs Park (Solar Sox), Salt River Fields (Rafters), Scottsdale Stadium (Scorpions), Camelback Ranch (Desert Dogs), Surprise Stadium (Javelinas), and Surprise Stadium (Saguaros).