PHOENIX – With only ten days left in Spring Training, the Arizona Diamondbacks are still trying to decide who the team will trot out on the field for Opening Day.
Probably the position most up for grabs remains first base with Brandon Allen, non-roster invitee Russell Branyan and offseason addition Juan Miranda all still in the mix.
“They all certainly have their strengths. It’s a good competition,” said manager Kirk Gibson.
The favorites seem to be either Branyan or Allen with the Diamondbacks choice possibly hinging on what the team values the most.
Branyan has been tearing the ball off the cover throughout Spring Training batting .436 with three home runs.
“He’s played very well and certainly made a case to be on this team,” said Gibson.
However, Branyan is clearly a defensive liability at first and might be better suited to a bench role.
Allen has had a solid spring as well hitting .333 with one home run and nine RBI’s.
He is also versatile in that he can play left field so there’s a good chance he finds his way on the roster as well.
“I’ve certainly noticed his dedication to everywhere, every aspect to the game,” said Gibson.
Miranda has had a decent showing compiling a .282 average with three home runs.
The first base debate will be answered soon as the team has to make a decision on Branyan by Friday whether to add him to the 40-man roster or cut him loose.
The other major undecided position battle is out in left field.
Xavier Nady was signed in the offseason and expected to man the spot, but he has struggled mightily all spring hitting only .200 in 18 games.
On the other hand, Gerardo Parra has impressed hitting .333 with 11 RBI’s.
“He’s giving more than a push and playing well,” said Gibson.
Third base hasn’t officially been announced who will be the starter, but the competition has gotten down to either Melvin Mora or Tony Abreu.
Geoff Blum was supposed to be in the mix, but he’s now dealing with a knee injury that will probably prevent him from being ready on Opening Day.
Mora was the favorite heading into Spring Training, but has only hit .222 while Abreu has scalded the ball batting .354 with eight RBI’s.
As Spring Training winds down here in the next week, Gibson and his staff will be faced with some difficult decisions.
“We’ll get down to the end and make the best decisions,” said Gibson.