So far, the complaints have gotten more attention than the exclamations of excitement when it comes to players talking about Major League Baseball’s season opener in Australia, which pits the Arizona Diamondbacks against the Los Angeles Dodgers for a two-game series.
But a pair of young shortstops vying to win a starting job with the Diamondbacks won’t be heard among the chorus of objections.
Indeed, a 32-hour round trip flight from Phoenix to Sydney is the least of the rigors facing Didi Gregorius and Chris Owings, who find themselves in the heat of a position battle with just nine days to go before the start of the regular season.
Gregorius saw the lion’s share of starts at shortstop among Diamondbacks players last season, playing in 103 games at the position, despite a pair of early season injuries. Owings, meanwhile, was a September call-up who got a handful of nods at the position over the final few weeks of the season.
And now, as departure for Sydney rapidly approaches, general manager Kevin Towers seems as if he’ll need some extra time to mull over his shortstop decision. So he’s planning to take both players down under for the two-game series.
“Both of these kids have performed very, very well,” Towers told Arizona Sports 98.7 FM’s The Dan Bickley Show with Vince Marotta.
“Both have swung the bats well, played stellar defense.”
The neck-and-neck race, which seems to show Gregorius with the defensive edge and Owings with the offensive advantage, will, thus, make its way down under.
“We’re going to probably carry both of these kids — they’ll be active, both of them, for our series in Australia,” Towers said Thursday.
That news is huge for Owings, in particular, who told the show he wasn’t sure of his status for the series abroad.
“I have not been notified,” he said. “I honestly don’t know if I’m going or not.”
If Towers’ leaning holds up, the trip will be more than just the third major league road trip for Owings.
“I’ve never been out of the country before,” he told the show.
Some kind of jaunt awaits the 22-year-old.