D-backs’ Nick Ahmed, Chris Owings looking forward to return from injury
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. – It has been a long offseason for Nick Ahmed and Chris Owings. After suffering season-ending injuries last season, both players will look to make a triumphant return with the Arizona Diamondbacks this year.
Owings had surgery for a fractured right middle finger in November, and Ahmed is coming off of a freak injury in which he broke his wrist during a rehab assignment from a fractured right hand.
While the untimely injuries could not have come at a worse time for the two players as the Diamondbacks were making a postseason push, the duo has a renewed sense of energy heading into this year’s spring training slate.
“My hand and wrist are all healed up,” Ahmed said. “I am ready for what hopefully will be a very healthy and productive year.”
As for Owings, his return to the field after surgery in November could lead the Diamondbacks to err on the side of caution.
Nevertheless, Diamondbacks manager Torey Lovullo and Owings are looking to take Cactus League play in stride, and the recovery process will be in the works as Owings settles back into his utility role on the diamond.
“We (Owings and Lovullo) kind of talked the other day about getting into the flow of things,” Owings said. “We will talk more about it as soon as things get more comfortable, so it’s just kind of getting my feet under me.”
Ahmed has always been known for his glove while playing shortstop for the Diamondbacks. However, prior to getting injured last season, the 27-year old middle infielder got off to a promising start by hitting .251 in 53 games.
The average was the highest of Ahmed’s four-year career to that point, but the unfortunate injury led Diamondbacks fans to only consider what could have been.
“If you look at the entire year that he had, he had a really nice offensive year, and, defensively, we all know that he is elite,” Lovullo said. “We are looking for that to continue this year, and I am watching him take a leadership role and that’s something we want our shortstops to do, and I know that he’s healthy.”
With losses in the middle of the field last season, the Diamondbacks were forced to put Ketel Marte into the spotlight, a spot in which the young shortstop grabbed the reins toward the end of the season.
Marte was the Diamondbacks starting shortstop in the postseason, and with the returns of Ahmed and Owings, the middle of the diamond is in for an enticing spring training at Salt River Fields as Lovullo tries to determine who his starting shortstop will be this season.
“All shortstops need to be consistent, and we feel like we have very consistent shortstops right now,” Lovullo said. “There is going to be some internal separators and we got to pay attention to what those are … but we like all of our guys. They already get up to the starting blocks consistent, and we are going to look for those other little things that make them special.”
Although Ahmed and Owings were forced to deal with a shortened season because of injury, the offseason did not completely beat down the spirits of the two players.
Although the recovery process was long, the offseason served as extra time to spend with the people who matter the most to the two players.
“I just enjoyed being a dad and a husband, and I spent a lot of time with my family,” Ahmed said.
Owings echoed a similar sentiment.
“I was kind of on the couch for a little while (with surgery in November),” Owings said. “Other than that, it was just spending time with family and making some trips back to the east coast, and just spending some time with my wife and my wife’s family.”
With the start of spring training ahead, both players will look to fully recover and take part in something that they couldn’t do last season — play in the postseason.
“There has been a lot of guys who have been here (in Arizona) since December,” Owings said. “I feel like we kind of have just kept rolling (from last year). Everybody meshes together really well and the chemistry is really good, so it’s a great clubhouse to be in.”
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