Ketel Marte’s transition to CF for D-backs begins in spring play at 2B
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — The Arizona Diamondbacks will be replacing former center fielder A.J. Pollock internally, except not with a traditional outfielder.
Infielder Ketel Marte is making the transition to the position where he is expected to play for most of if not the entirety of the 2019 season.
That transition, though, is delicate and because of that, Marte will start spring training play on Saturday at second base.
“There’s a strategy to everything we do so we have a schedule mapped out for him,” D-backs manager Torey Lovullo said on Friday.
“At some point, you’re going to see him rotate out to the outfield. What that exact date is — I don’t have that right now.”
Lovullo went on to clarify that if he had to put a timeline on the move, it would be right around a week.
It’s a fascinating decision considering Marte is only 25 years old, coming off his first season playing at least 120 games and signed a five-year extension with the club in March of 2018.
Marte has hit .260 each of the last two seasons for the D-backs and had a career-high 14 home runs, 59 RBI, 54 walks and .769 OPS last season.
Lovullo admitted that there were various opinions shared on how to handle Marte’s move and there was a back and forth discussion.
“I just felt like to give him every opportunity to get back into the swing of it, feel comfortable, that was gonna be the best spot,” he said.
D-backs outfield instructor Dave McKay is the coach on Lovullo’s staff taking the lead through Marte’s adjustment from infielder to outfielder, a process McKay has done numerous times throughout his coaching career.
“He looks like he’s going to be fun to work with,” McKay said. “I get real excited about this guy because there’s a lot to work with. He’s got good speed, he’s smart, he listens. We need some time to where he gets real comfortable. No one could just jump into something like that and feel real comfortable.”
Lovullo shared that sentiment, saying there will be some “dark days” as Marte learns more and more.
It’s not really rocket science when it comes to what Lovullo is watching for with Marte playing in center.
“For me personally, just his ability to take the right angle to the baseball and get the right read on the baseball,” he said. “It’s gonna be hard for him to stand another 150 feet away from home plate and get the same read and take that same angle.
“And there’s some adjustments to playing a new position and seeing the ball flight from a new direction but I believe he’s gonna be able to handle it. I really do.”