Josh Rojas making his case with D-backs’ infield full of questions

Mar 9, 2021, 6:02 PM

Arizona Diamondbacks shortstop Josh Rojas (10) throws to first in a double play during the fourth i...

Arizona Diamondbacks shortstop Josh Rojas (10) throws to first in a double play during the fourth inning of a spring training baseball game against the Chicago Cubs Sunday, March 7, 2021, in Scottsdale, Ariz. Chicago Cubs' Nico Hoerner, left, is out at second and Rafael Ortega is out at first. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

(AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

SCOTTSDALE — Starting shortstop Nick Ahmed on Tuesday missed his second straight day to rest a knee injury that popped up a day earlier.

That does not seem to be concerning the Arizona Diamondbacks, who lost 11-4 to the Colorado Rockies at Salt River Fields. But a it does bring the shortstop depth chart into the front of view three weeks and three days ahead of the 2021 season opener.

“(Backup shortstop is) one of the things I’ve been searching for since we started here in this camp,” Lovullo said. “Nick is doing OK. He is continuing to get some treatment.”

Ahmed’s injury — minor as it might be — leads to a lot of head-scrambling decisions that Arizona manager Torey Lovullo must make in the next few weeks.

Obviously, Ketel Marte’s ability to play from infield to outfield begins the conversation. Lovullo suggested he wouldn’t want Marte to add shortstop onto his to-do list with second base and center field also on his plate.

Filling out the depth chart might instead start with someone like Josh Rojas, who Lovullo suggested might be more natural as a middle infielder but is, and will be, asked to bounce around positionally.

On Tuesday, it was 25-year-old Domingo Leyba, who spent 2019 with Triple-A Reno, getting the nod at shortstop. Twenty-one-year-old Geraldo Perdomo replaced Leyba midway through the 7.5-inning game.

Rojas had in previous days gotten run at shortstop and second base.

He played in left field against the Rockies on Tuesday and went 2-of-3 with a double and a strikeout.

Rojas is slashing .391/.440/.826 so far in spring, making a case for a spot on the major league roster by the April 1 opener. His search for a set position might linger for a few more weeks — or longer.

Realistically, maybe a player like Rojas makes the roster without whittling his positional production down to two or even three spots.

“We wanted these guys to go out and show some versatility, which they have. We’ve given them the ability to move around,” Lovullo said. “We’re judging their at-bats. We’re going to start to figure out what our lineup looks like pretty soon.

“I want things to continue, I want these guys, including Josh, to feel comfortable at left, to feel comfortable at second and third and short, because I think that’s going to be a role for him moving forward if he does continue to do well and make the team.”

That seems like Lovullo can’t commit to reducing Rojas’ day-to-day moving around.

Maybe the only thing certain now is his offensive success a few weeks into spring. If that’s the case, it doesn’t sound like a big deal to Lovullo.

“There’s a ton of bat speed, there is great barrel awareness. The barrel is finding the baseball,” Lovullo said of Rojas, before complementing the utility man’s willingness to play anywhere.

“I think if I ask him to pitch, he’d probably do that, too, and think he could get three outs. … What his best position? His actions for me are that of a middle infielder. Where that takes us, I don’t know. I don’t know exactly at this point.”

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Josh Rojas making his case with D-backs’ infield full of questions