In the midst of a battle for the starting shortstop gig, Arizona Diamondbacks infielder Chris Owings is as comfortable as he ever has been in his fourth big league camp.
The 22-year-old held his own in five minor league seasons before being called up to the D-backs last September.
“The experience of getting called up last year just helped out tremendously,” Owings told The Dan Bickley Show with Vince Marotta on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM. “Cliff and those guys are very experienced as well and they are teaching me some stuff out there.”
Owings is competing with Didi Gregorius and Cliff Pennington for the starting shortstop job.
The shortstop role was manned by Gregorius for most of last year, however this spring the D-backs maintain that Owings has a shot to win the job.
Gregorius batted .252 with seven homers and 47 runs scored in his rookie season, compared to Owings’ big league average of .291 and five RBI in 55 at-bats during his call-up.
“We got different things we bring to the table,” Owings said. “He’s flashy out there and I’m learning some stuff from him out there at shortstop taking ground balls.
“He can swing it too. He’s got a good swing and a lot of pop too just like me.”
Owings credits learning from more experienced players, like the 29-year-old middle infielder Pennington, in working on his craft. The time spent on the field speaks for itself, as Pennington has played in 493 games at short, compared to a combined 131 games played for Gregorius (111) and Owings (20).
“It’s just little stuff that he’s picked up throughout the years that I’m trying to use,” Owings said. “Even with sliding over to second base a little bit, he’s knowledgeable on that end too when he was with the A’s playing third base, shortstop and second base. He knows what he’s doing. He’s swapped around just like I have and I’m just trying to lean on him and get that experience level.”
Pennington’s spot on the D-backs roster is all but guaranteed. However, Gregorius and Owings are playing for one of the last spots on the team, with a minor league trip in the near future for one of them. Owings says he will learn from any situation, good or bad, that arises this spring.
“I’ve gotten a lot of at-bats and a lot of playing time so whatever happens, happens,” Owings said. “It’s been said that somebody has to go back down to the minors and I’m not looking at it as a bad thing. If it is me that has to go back down there, I’m just going to learn from it. I’ll go back down there and compete and just try to work on my game so if I do get called up I’m ready to go.”