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Arizona Diamondbacks’ Didi Gregorius welcomes infield competition

LISTEN: Didi Gregorius, D-backs shortstop

Didi Gregorius is no stranger to competition, in fact he welcomes it.

The 24-year-old Arizona Diamondbacks infielder enters his second season in a position battle for the starting shortstop role after playing only 111 career games.

“Every sport for me is competition,” Gregorius told Doug and Wolf on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM.

Right now it is Chris Owings and veteran Cliff Pennington who Gregorius will battle in spring training for the starting gig.

“I really want the position to be mine but it’s not in my hands,” the Netherlands native said. “Last year I didn’t do much in spring because I was injured but this year has been going good. I’m just going to go out there and play my game.”

After starting last year on the disabled list due to a right elbow injury that didn’t allow him to throw, he was called up from AAA Reno on April 16 after Aaron Hill suffered a broken hand.

Two days later, on the first pitch in his first at-bat, Gregorius launched his first career homer off of Yankee pitcher Phil Hughes.

Gregorius enjoyed a hot start to the season last year, batting .275 in the first half, but cooled down after the All-Star break. Gregorius ended his rookie campaign with a .252 average, seven home runs and 47 runs scored.

While Gregorius shines on the defensive side with a .971 fielding percentage and speed to cover most of the middle infield, his younger teammate Owings is known for being a superior hitter.

Owings was called up to the D-backs on September 1 after being drafted in the first round of the 2009 draft. His offensive production earned him the 2013 Pacific Coast League Player of the Year while batting .330 for AAA Reno.

“Competition for me is something natural and normal,” Gregorius said. “It’s not something new for me and the competition makes the best of you come out.”