BY: ED COLE
GLENDALE, Ariz. – Nothing’s going to come easy to any one of the 68 men on the Arizona Diamondbacks Spring Training roster.
With the exception of a few roster spots that are set (Zack Greinke, Shelby Miller, Paul Goldschmidt, Welington Castillo, David Peralta, just to name a few), everyone else is going to have to stake their claim on their respective position in the infield, outfield and in the rotation and bullpen.
Manager Chip Hale loves competition, because it brings out the best in his players.
Just ask second baseman Chris Owings, who’s one of those players who’s fighting for a job.
“Yeah, I think so,” Owings said. “You look at ground balls here, without any competition, with no games or anything, (and) everybody is giving it all they have.”
Owings can appreciate the position battles that are going on in camp right now, and how far he’s traveled in his career to get to where he is right now with the team. Two seasons ago, Owings and Didi Gregorius competed for the starting shortstop position in camp – a position Owings would win, as he’d be named the team’s starting shortstop for Opening Day.
Things have changed since then for Owings. With Nick Ahmed coming on so strong defensively at shortstop, and the team signing Jean Segura in the offseason, Owings has shifted his focus over to second base – a position he’s quite familiar with, and one he’s more than willing to fight for over the next month.
“Your mentality never changes,” Owings said. “I’ve been telling people that I’ve never had a guaranteed spot on the team. I think you can look at a lot of guys like Nick (Ahmed), Jake (Lamb), Brandon (Drury), (and) Phil (Gosselin); everybody’s never really had a guaranteed spot in the Big Leagues. You just kind of take that day-to-day, and you don’t really change anything that you’ve been doing. You come to the park everyday and (be) ready to get after it.”
The Arizona Diamondbacks have taken pride in being one of the better defensive teams in baseball, and the numbers bear that out.
Last season, the team had the sixth best fielding percentage in all of Major League Baseball (.986). In 162 games, the team only committed 86 errors on 6183 total chances.
That kind of stellar defensive play can be attributed to a number of things: 1.) Solid coaching, 2.) Players that are like-minded in their approach to shutting offenses down, and 3.) Quality talent, all of which the team has, especially in their infield.
“I think it starts with (Paul) Goldy (Goldschmidt),” Owings said. “Goldy’s locked in over there (at first base), and he’s what makes everybody better, then you factor in everybody in here, with Nick (Ahmed) at short(stop) and Jean (Segura) at short(stop), and me kind of floating from short(stop) and second (base), and then (Brandon) Drury floating over (between third base and second base), and Phil (Gosselin), and (Jake) Lamb. It’s unique. I don’t think I’ve been in a camp here that we’ve been this deep at every position. It’s kind of special, and it brings the best out in everybody.”