The team is in place, Arizona Diamondbacks GM Kevin Towers believes, but what happens from here may come down to a little bit of luck.
“To me, it’s just health,” he told Doug and Wolf on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM Wednesday when asked about the biggest question mark his team faces heading into the season. “I really like our club on paper. We’re going to be a good ball club, I think we’re going to be right up there at the top of this division from the beginning to the end.
“The key is just keeping our core players healthy.”
Last season, only Paul Goldschmidt, Martin Prado and Gerardo Parra played in more than 150 games, while Miguel Montero appeared in just 116. Cody Ross and Aaron Hill were limited to 94 and 87 games, respectively, due to different injuries.
Towers believes the D-backs were a good team last year that was limited by injuries, and added that the 2011 team that won the NL West remained relatively healthy throughout the course of the entire season.
“My biggest concern is, knock on wood, so far we haven’t had any injuries whatsoever, it’s been a clean camp, morale is good, people are upbeat, the guys are in shape, pitchers are throwing the ball well, guys are swinging the bats,” he said. “For me, it’s just no big injuries to any of our players and getting through the spring.”
It just so happens that one of the players who missed a significant amount of time last season, Montero, is the one Towers believes may be key to the entire season.
A career .267 hitter who batted .286 with 15 home runs and 88 RBI in 2012, Montero hit just .230 with 11 home runs and 42 RBI in 2013.
His left-handed bat could be big, Towers said, especially in a lineup that is likely to be filled out mostly with right-handed hitters.
“To be able to kind of break up maybe a Goldschmidt and a Trumbo, it’d be nice to have a big left-handed bat that can do some damage in the middle of our order,” Towers said. “We get Miggy back to where he was at a couple years ago swinging the bat the way he’s used to, and he’s looked so far very good in spring training, that will make a big difference.
“When your catcher is swinging the bat well, he’s calling good games, he’s handling that staff…if he has a big season for us I think our team will follow.”