PHOENIX, Ariz. — It seemed like the natural thing to do: Bat Mark Trumbo behind Paul Goldschmidt to form one of the more dangerous 1-2 punches — or, in the case of the batting order, 3-4 punches — in all of baseball.
That was the talk that dominated the conversation in the offseason — and even into spring training — once the Arizona Diamondbacks acquired Trumbo as part of a three-team deal involving the Los Angeles Angels and Chicago White Sox.
But now four games into the regular season, that pairing has yet to materialize.
Yes, Goldschmidt is hitting third—that isn’t about to change. Trumbo, however, has found himself hitting fifth or sixth, which is where he was slotted Tuesday when the Diamondbacks played host to the Giants for the second of a four-game series.
“We’ll just see how it evolves,” manager Kirk Gibson said. “The season starts. You start a certain way and then you adjust. I’m just going to try to learn the personnel. We’re going to try to figure out what the most productive lineup can be. It could end up that way (with the two hitting back-to-back), but right now my plans are to try to have others on base in front of them.”
Last season, Trumbo hit 21 of his 34 home runs and drove in 59 of his 100 RBI from the cleanup spot.
Over the course of his five-year career, however, it has hardly mattered whether he has hit fourth or fifth in the lineup. The numbers are nearly identical: Thirty-three home runs and 97 RBI batting fourth compared to 32 home runs and 96 RBI batting fifth.
The one big difference is batting average, though. Trumbo hits 25 points better from the fifth spot (.262) than he does in a cleanup role (.237).
“My basic thought is to try to get a couple of guys in front of Goldy that can get on and in front of Trumbo that can get on,” Gibson said. “And hopefully those guys will hit the ball out of the ballpark, and then we can score multiple runs.”