D-backs’ Lovullo praises Marte, Arizona close to finalizing roster
PHOENIX — Diamondbacks manager Torey Lovullo couldn’t comment Monday about the club’s reported agreement with infielder Ketel Marte on a contract extension, but he could shed light on the reasons that likely went into the team’s decision.
For one, Marte already flashed special abilities toward the end of last season.
For another, the 24-year-old, who reportedly could make up to $46 million over seven years on his extended deal, is only getting better. After Marte began 2017 in Triple-A Reno behind Nick Ahmed and Chris Owings, he carried the D-backs down the stretch when the two other infielders suffered hand and wrist injuries.
In Lovullo’s words, Marte was “at times one of the best players in the National League.
“I stand firm on that by saying he’s continuing to grow,” the Arizona manager added. “Given what we know of him and the process that he’s following, that if he continues on that, he should be a very, very special player.”
Marte slashed .436/.522/1.086 this spring coming off a postseason where he went 7-of-17 at the plate with one home run, two triples and four runs scored.
He’s expected to play at second base and shortstop after the team traded Brandon Drury to the Yankees in the deal to acquire outfielder Steven Souza Jr. from the Rays.
“Ketel Marte is an extremely exciting young player and he did some very special things for us last year,” Lovullo said. “He did some incredible things this spring training. Ketel is going to play a lot for this team and he’s going to split his time in the middle infield.
“It’s going to create a lot of versatility for me and this team.”
D-BACKS’ ROSTER ALMOST SET
A series of moves on Monday cut the Arizona roster down to 25 healthy bodies — Souza Jr. and reliever Randall Delgado were added to the 10-day disabled list.
Lovullo pumped the brakes on that roster being what the D-backs take into the Thursday season opener against the Colorado Rockies. That, he said, could be finalized in the next 12 hours.
He also maintained it would be his preference to keep three catchers and confirmed he has yet to clarify some roles, including who would be closer.
“Probably just a couple conversations that I need to have as far as lining up the closer and maybe some roles. Those are the remaining things I need to do,” the manager said.
Asked whether reliever Archie Bradley had done anything to hurt his case to become the closer after acting as setup man to since-departed Fernando Rodney, Lovullo said: “I don’t know. There’s two thoughts that I’m having. He was exceptional last year in the role that he was in. The other thought is he’s ready to take the next step.”
— Zack Greinke started Monday against the Cleveland Indians as Arizona opened a two-game exhibition set at Chase Field. He was expected to pitch five innings or 75 pitches.
— Lovullo on not getting to pitch Patrick Corbin in the 2017 playoff run. “It hurt, it hurt. He’s one of our catalysts on the mound. We had some things in play …. He understood, he’s a total team player. But it’s something personal that bothers me.
— On officially cutting catcher Chris Herrmann on Monday: “Very tough, very tough. This was somebody that was a contributor to the success of this club last year. He had some big hits. He was a great teammate and those are hard decisions when you have to let somebody like that go.”