Upon arrival at Salt River Fields for their morning workout, veteran infielder Willie Bloomquist saw his name on the day’s lineup card for the Arizona Diamondbacks’ game against the Kansas City Royals.
Except this time, the letters next to Bloomquist’s name read “LF”.
Bloomquist is better known for his skills in the middle-infield, specifically at shortstop, but he’s also known as a team player willing to fill in where needed. Sometimes that includes left field.
“It’s something I need to be able to do, whether it’s for WBC (World Baseball Classic) reasons or for Diamondbacks reasons, it doesn’t matter to me,” said the 35-year-old after Monday’s 16-4 loss to the Royals. “It’s something that I’ve done before and it’s something I need to be prepared to do.”
Team USA manager Joe Torre could use Bloomquist as a backup for Jimmy Rollins at shortstop or he could insert him in the outfield. Either way, the veteran major leaguer is accustomed to being flexible in his role.
“I’ve been asked to do that plenty of times in my career, to move positions and bounce around, so this is the best place to do it and get comfortable at it again,” said Bloomquist when asked about playing left field during spring training.
D-backs manager Kirk Gibson also acknowledged that could be part of the reason he put Willie in the outfield against Kansas City.
“He’s been there before and he might get some time out there in the WBC so I wanted to get him out there. And the other thing is we’re just kind of short on outfielders right now.”
Bloomquist didn’t make any errors in left Monday but he did struggle with a fly ball early, and that was frustrating for a guy who prides himself on not making mistakes.
“First ball was a little bit tough, I got kind of right there in the sun but it’s part of spring training,” he said. “You don’t like to get them the first one out of the shoot, it kind of puts you on your heels but it is what it is, you adjust and make the next play.”
Gibson agreed with Bloomquist’s assessment that it’s good to get the first game out of the way and learn from mistakes.
“It’s his first time out and it was kind of one of those out over the head, in the sun, tailing. That’s not an easy one and that’s one of the reasons we put him out there so he can get some comfort and next time he’ll be more comfortable out there.”
Bloomquist did play in the outfield twice last season for the D-backs but has not spent any extended time working or playing there. He’s happy to get this time during spring training to work on his game when the games “don’t count.”
“It’s much easier to do it now and get the jitters out than it is mid-season,” he said. “It’s just something I need to be able to do and need to be able to move around if that’s what they need me to do on this team or the WBC.”