GOODYEAR, Ariz. — In some ways, the 2016 season could be viewed as a considerable step forward for Yasmany Tomas. His 31 home runs led the way for the Arizona Diamondbacks, and his 83 RBI ranked behind only Paul Goldschmidt and Jake Lamb on the team.
That may not be enough to justify the six-year, $68.5 million contract he signed back in 2014, but it was enough to set him up for a prominent role in the outfield this season.
Problem is, he’s still dealing with a strained oblique, and there’s no guarantee he’ll be ready for Opening Day. If he’s unable to play again this spring, he only managed to get in 17 total Cactus League at-bats. Worse yet, he turned exactly zero of those at-bats into actual hits.
That’s not necessarily a reason to panic about Tomas, but it is a pretty strong sign that the D-backs need others to step up to form an outfield rotation. A.J. Pollock is obviously the clear-cut centerfielder, but he’s been sidelined with a groin issue.
And while he’s set to work his way back here soon — most likely as a DH, at first — the door is still open for other players to make a name for themselves.
Chris Herrmann is one of them. And the versatile 29-year old knocked his first home run of the spring on Sunday, depositing a 2-1 Josh Tomlin pitch over the right field wall at Goodyear Ballpark during what ended up to be a 4-4 tie with the Cleveland Indians.
“He’s going to be that versatile guy that’s going to play the outfield,” manager Torey Lovullo noted after the game. “He’s going to play a little first base and obviously catch as well. So it’s a credit to him to be as versatile as he is and be able to take advantage of that.”
Normally a catcher, Herrmann is seeing time all over the field right now. On Sunday, Jeff Mathis got the nod behind the plate, so Herrmann started in left field.
Meanwhile, Gregor Blanco, Jeremy Hazelbaker and Jason Pridie — other candidates to see time in the outfield while Pollock and Tomas heal up — went a combined 1-for-5 with a run scored and three strikeouts on the afternoon.
Herrmann’s homer gave the D-backs a 1-0 lead over the Indians in the second inning, but the defending American League champs would rally before the game ultimately ended in the tie.
On the mound for Arizona, Patrick Corbin delivered another solid start, scattering two runs over five innings while striking out three.
“It was a hot day out there for sure, but it was just good to build up the pitch count,” Corbin explained. “Threw all my pitches and was able to work on some things. And I’ll just build off of this.”
The 27-year old lefty has been decent this spring, carrying a 3.38 ERA into Sunday. And that continued this afternoon — a good sign that he could be close to locking up a spot in the rotation with Opening Day just two weeks away.
“I feel great. I’m ready to go. And if the next one was the regular season, I’d be ready. So it’s just a matter of getting up to around 90. And then once we do that, we’ll be ready to start the season. Everything feels good. I’m happy with my off-speed pitches, I’m getting ahead of guys and I’m throwing strikes.”
– One player who won’t be part of that outfield rotation is Brandon Drury. Despite seeing time in all three outfield spots last season, the 24-year old is locked in at second base. He went 0-for-3 on Sunday, ending an impressive hitting streak that had spanned eight consecutive at-bats entering the game.
– Drury also made a nice catch on a pop up to shallow center off the bat of Jose Ramirez in the first inning.
– The D-backs haven’t had their pitchers batting in games yet this spring, prior to Saturday’s contest with the Netherlands. After Zack Greinke went 1-for-3 with an RBI a day prior, Corbin went 0-for-2 on Sunday.
– David Peralta is the one everyday outfielder playing right now, and he had six putouts over just five innings of play in right field Sunday. He nearly made a seventh, but couldn’t quite make a sliding grab along the warning track on a fourth-inning double to right-center by Edwin Encarnacion.