D-backs’ Lovullo addresses center field, first base and not rebuilding

Jan 30, 2019, 1:20 PM | Updated: 2:24 pm
(AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)...
(AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)
(AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

With spring training only a few weeks away, the Arizona Diamondbacks still have big decisions to make.

A couple of those decisions will be made by D-backs manager Torey Lovullo, who had his contract extended Tuesday, as he has a couple of holes to fill in after the departures of first baseman Paul Goldschmidt and center-fielder A.J. Pollock.

The D-backs have also openly stated that they are not in full rebuild mode, which will make Lovullo’s decision-making a little more challenging.

Lovullo touched on these decisions Wednesday before his round of golf at the Waste Management Pro-Am.

First base

With Goldschmidt now in St. Louis, the D-backs are left with a couple of options to fill in his role at first base.

The main three players on the roster that are fit for the position are third baseman Jake Lamb, first-baseman Christian Walker and newly-signed infielder Wilmer Flores.

“Those are three guys that have to step up and get the job done,” Lovullo told Bickley & Marotta on 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station. “All of them have played very meaningful innings and all of them have been in some sort of postseason run or in the postseason themselves.”

Center field

There has been a lot of speculation about who will man center field for the D-backs with Pollock now a member of the Los Angeles Dodgers.

One solution most fans have been expecting is that current D-backs second baseman Ketel Marte will switch positions to center field.

After Pollock got injured last May, Lovullo said Marte immediately came into his office and said that he was the best center fielder left on the roster.

“We are asking him to embrace, possibly, a new role,” Lovullo said. “We called Ketel, and this was months ago, and he’s been preparing that. He’s been working hard this offseason and I think he’ll be just fine out there.”

Not rebuilding

Although the D-backs saying that they are not rebuilding is nothing new, they have seemed to back that statement up more as of late.

The D-backs added more depth to the back of their bullpen by reportedly reaching an agreement with relief pitcher Greg Holland on a one-year contract worth about $3.5 million plus incentives. This addition gives Lovullo more options when it comes to closing games because he has yet to name a closer.

“I think anytime you bolster the back of your bullpen you’re doing something good,” D-backs reliever Archie Bradley told reporters at the Waste Management Open. “We’re making moves to win games and that’s what we’re trying to do.”

Lovullo said that even though the team lost starting pitcher Patrick Corbin, Goldschmidt and Pollock, the team expectations will remain high.

“We anticipated that something like this could happen, this is just the nature of the industry,” Lovullo said. “[The front office] knows how to build and construct a lineup based on what we have remaining … we are still very capable and are going to win some baseball games.”

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