GLENDALE, Ariz. — Wednesday was a perfect afternoon for baseball at Camelback Ranch in Glendale — the Cactus League home of the Los Angeles Dodgers.
It was also a perfect time for D-backs’ infielders Didi Gregorius and Cliff Pennington to break out of their spring jitters.
The duo — who combined for nine hits in 49 at-bats to start the Cactus League — inflicted serious damage to Zack Greinke and rest of the Dodgers’ pitching staff, going 6-for-7 and knocking in three runs in the D-backs’ 9-2 win.
Pennington finished 3-for-3, a home run short of the cycle, and boosted his chances of making the team’s Opening Day roster. He finds himself in a three-man battle for playing time at shortstop with Gregorius and developing prospect Chris Owings.
With Opening Day 10 days away, these final warm-up games are certainly a serious matter for players like Pennington who is trying to make the trip to Australia. In 96 games last season for Arizona, Pennington batted .242 with 18 RBIs.
Gregorius laced a trio of singles along with an RBI and a stolen base.
His stolen base didn’t come without a bit of preseason drama, as the umpires utilized instant replay to confirm that he beat Hanley Ramirez’s tag at second base.
Starting third baseman Andy Marte delivered the biggest blast of the game, smashing a solo home run off Los Angeles starter Zack Greinke over the left field bullpen to start the D-Backs’ three-run second inning.
Marte is in the process of trying to revive his career after displaying immense promise as a teenager when he was signed at 16 by the Atlanta Braves. Now at the age of 30, he hasn’t had an MLB at-bat since 2010 with the Indians. However, he is off to a solid start in the Cactus League batting .316 with a home run and three RBI in 12 games. The power he has to offer may help him get that next opportunity in hitter-friendly Chase Field.
The Diamondbacks were playing with their split-squad “B” team today, and most of their reserves handily outplayed the Dodgers starters.
Arizona starter Michael Lee erased a bumpy first inning where he allowed two runs by retiring seven of the final eight batters he faced over three innings of work. Cesar Carrillo, who hasn’t pitched in the majors since ’09, pitched three innings of scoreless relief.