D-backs’ Christian Walker ‘a little bit ahead’ of Yasmany Tomas

Jul 1, 2018, 12:13 PM
(AP Photo/Matt York)...
(AP Photo/Matt York)
(AP Photo/Matt York)

PHOENIX – On the surface, the move made sense according to Arizona Diamondbacks manager Torey Lovullo.

With a day game after a night game and the opposition throwing a left-hander on the mound, Christian Walker found his name in the starting lineup. But not at first base, where he had started eight times in 11 career games covering four big-league seasons. Instead, Walker was playing left field, a position still relatively new.

In fact, Sunday against San Francisco marked Walker’s first-ever outfield start in the majors.

“I mean the poor guy plays the same positions as one of the best players in the world, right?” Lovullo said, referring to Paul Goldschmidt. “So, he is excited about getting more than one pinch-hit at-bat and I’m anxious to see how (him playing the outfield) looks as well.”

A first baseman by trade, the 27-year-old Walker has slowly made the transition to left field.

“We challenged him to do down (to the minors) each time and get some reps down there,” Lovullo said. “Player development did a great job of getting some innings and getting him some work and they signed off on it and said that he was ready to play left field.”

Lovullo added he and general manager Mike Hazen discussed the move a couple of days earlier and, again, with Giants left-hander Derek Holland starting the series-finale, Lovullo felt the time was right “to rotate one of our left-handed hitting outfielders out and give them a day off” and see how Walker looked in left field.

“Those are great stories,” Lovullo continued. “First baseman by trade and he has migrated to a new position and I want to see what that looks like. I’m all about giving guys that type of opportunity. I know he’s worked hard for that.”

Digging deeper, however, is how Walker playing left field — if successful, of course — might mean for the other outfielders within the D-backs organization, namely Yasmany Tomas.

In year four of a six-year, $68.5 million contract, Tomas has spent all season with Triple-A Reno, where he’s played predominantly left field. Over 29 games, including 28 starts, Tomas has committed two errors in 39 defensive chances according to Baseball Reference.

“I have not (seen) Yasmany in quite some time, so I don’t know where he’s at presently. I know what I’ve been reading and hearing from the Triple-A staff,” Lovullo said. “What I’ve been told about Christian Walker is he’s serviceable and average, league average; expect league average type of play out there.”

The numbers, albeit limited, suggest Walker has held his own in left field with Reno. His fielding percentage reads a perfect 1.000 (13 putouts in 13 chances) in 12 games.

“I was told that Christian Walker was a little bit ahead of (Tomas),” Lovullo said.

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