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Diamondbacks expect to have ‘a really, really strong bench’ in 2018

Arizona Diamondbacks' Chris Herrmann (10) celebrates his home run against the Los Angeles Dodgers with manager Torey Lovullo, right, and Paul Goldschmidt, left, during the fourth inning of a baseball game Wednesday, Aug. 30, 2017, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

PEORIA, Ariz. – The roster decisions aren’t many, but those that the Arizona Diamondbacks do have ahead of Opening Day are going to be tough.

The bench, in particular, manager Torey Lovullo acknowledged on Monday.

The D-backs first need to decide how many bench players to open the season with — four or five — depending on the number of arms the team decides to keep in the bullpen.

Then there’s the question of a third catcher. A year ago, the D-backs kept three catchers the entire season.

“We haven’t yet determined that. We’ve been bouncing back-and-forth with a lot of different thoughts. Having that third catcher is a great luxury to me as I manage through the game,” Lovullo said, before the D-backs played the San Diego Padres under the lights at Peoria Stadium.

“We’re going to try to just pick the best 25 and talk about combinations and if that lands at two or three catchers, we haven’t yet determined that.”

Overall, Lovullo likes how his bench projects.

“Our bench has been really upgraded over the past four or five months since the end of last season,” he said. “Nothing against the guys that were there last year, but you’re looking at three outfielders plus Jarrod Dyson. Like I said, I don’t want to categorize him as a fourth outfielder but we didn’t have that caliber of player last year that can play the type of defense and be an impact player offensively.”

In addition to Dyson, Lovullo is also expected to have at his disposal infielder Daniel Descalso, infielder/outfielder Chris Owings — provided he doesn’t win the job at either second base or shortstop — and Alex Avila or Jeff Mathis, whoever is not catching that day.

A fifth bench player, if five is the number, will then likely come down to catcher/outfielder Chris Herrmann or outfielder Yasmany Tomas.

“When I’m walking through the day and I’m preparing to have the projected type of bench that we are thinking we could possible have is really exciting to me,” Lovullo said. “It’s going to be something where that guy is going to come into a game (and) we’re not going to have a drop-off. He could potentially start and give somebody a break. We’re not going to have a drop-off. It’s going to be a really, really strong bench.”

BASE HITS

— Prior to their arrival in Peoria, the D-backs played an intrasquad game back at Salt River Fields. Both starter Patrick Corbin and reliever Randall Delgado were the main attractions.

Corbin pitched 3.1 scoreless innings with one hit, no walks and four strikeouts. He threw 47 pitches, 35 for strikes.

“The shape of his pitches, secondary pitches looked outstanding. The fastball command on both sides of the plate was great,” Lovullo said.

Meanwhile, Delgado, who has yet to appear in a Cactus League game, hit the 20-pitch mark in his one inning of work and allowed one run on two hits with no walks and one strikeout.

“Delgado threw the ball really well today,” Lovullo said. “Got into the pitch-range that we were hoping to see and the velocity, the stuff was secondary to how he felt. He said he felt great. So, the stuff was coming out fine. He wasn’t holding back, which is some things that you watch for. For me, it was a perfect outing.”

Delgado missed the final two-and-a-half months of last season with a right elbow injury.

— Two other D-backs pitchers are also making good progress.

Lovullo announced reliever Jimmy Sherfy will throw a bullpen session on Tuesday, while reliever Brad Boxberger will play in a game on Thursday.

The D-backs have been cautious with both right-handers.

Sherfy has been dealing with shoulder fatigue, which has not allowed him to make an appearance yet this spring. Boxberger, on the other hand, has not thrown in a game since Feb. 23 due to what Lovullo has referred to as general soreness.

— Though he played in Monday’s game, Dyson did not play in the field. Instead, he was the designated hitter. That’s now the second time in as many Cactus League appearances with the D-backs.

“We talked to him,” Lovullo said. “We included him in on the decision and we just said, ‘Look, if you’re not ready, don’t rush it. We have time.’ And he felt strongly that DHing another day would be the best thing for him, so we support that.”

Dyson, who went 0-for-3 with three groundouts in five innings, ended last season on the disabled list and needed offseason surgery to repair a core muscle issue.

— Because a team can never have enough catchers, the D-backs added one on Monday. They signed Anthony Recker to a minor league contract with an invitation to spring training.

“Instead of one of six, he’s one of seven,” Lovullo said. “He’s going to go out and compete, and he’s going to have to earn everything that all the other catchers are earning as well. There’s no pecking order right now.”

Recker, 34, has played 206 games over parts of eight big league seasons.

“I’ve been saying all along, our front office does a good job of finding players, recognizing guys that are out there that could potentially help us and he fell right into our lap.”

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