D-backs SS Josh Rojas leads off Arizona’s Opening Day lineup

Apr 1, 2021, 10:05 AM | Updated: 11:52 am

Josh Rojas, SS

With only 58 MLB appearances over the last two years, Rojas' huge spring in 2021 puts him in line to become the first player from the July 2019 Zack Greinke trade to break out. Through the weekend, Rojas slashed .353/.405/.603 in spring and showed enough defensive to play backup at shortstop behind Nick Ahmed, at second base or in the outfield.

(AP Photo/Ashley Landis) Arizona Diamondbacks' Ketel Marte (4) celebrates after hitting a home run during the first inning of a spring training baseball game against the Oakland Athletics Tuesday, March 16, 2021, in Scottdale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis) Christian Walker, 1B

Walker appeared in all but three games last season, a year after grabbing the open first base job. He led the D-backs in at-bats (218) and doubles (18), plus was second in RBIs (34) and slugging percentage (.459).

(AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin) Arizona Diamondbacks' Trayce Thompson (30) celebrates his solo home run with David Peralta (6) during the second inning of a spring training baseball game against the Los Angeles Angels, Thursday, March 4, 2021, in Scottsdale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Matt York) Asdrubal Cabrera, 3B

The 35-year-old who played for the Washington Nationals the past two seasons was mashing this spring. He can play all over the infield but should see time mostly at first and third. The switch-hitter, who could be a prime DH candidate against lefties, batted .314 against southpaws opposed to .216 against righties in 2020.

(Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images) Arizona Diamondbacks' Eduardo Escobar (5) celebrates at third base after he tripled during the third inning of a spring training baseball game against the Chicago Cubs Sunday, March 7, 2021, in Scottsdale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis) Arizona Diamondbacks' Pavin Smith gestures as he runs towards home plate after hitting a home run in the second inning of a spring training baseball game against the Kansas City Royals, Thursday, March 25, 2021, in Surprise, Ariz. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki) Kansas City Royals's Kyle Isbel, left, scores behind Arizona Diamondbacks catcher Stephen Vogt, right, on a hit by Andrew Bernintendi in the second inning of a spring training baseball game Thursday, March 25, 2021, in Surprise, Ariz. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki) Madison Bumgarner, LHP

Bumgarner's rodeo alias and velocity were concerns during last year's interrupted spring, and he got off to a shaky start to the regular season before a back injury put the lefty on the injured list. Though Bumgarner finished his last two games of 2020 relatively well, he posted a 6.48 ERA in his first season away from the San Francisco Giants, setting up the Opening Day starter to seek a bounce-back 2021.

 (AP Photo/Matt York)

After solidifying the team’s 26-man roster, the Arizona Diamondbacks announced their starting lineup for Opening Day on Thursday.

While most of the lineup isn’t much of a surprise, there is a notable D-back out of the lineup for Arizona.

With shortstop Nick Ahmed on the mend with a right knee issue, the team is turning to spring training standout Josh Rojas against the San Diego Padres. He’ll lead things off Thursday.

“Nick is feeling good. … I’ve had a couple discussions with him about what the best plans are to get him to play a full season,” D-backs skipper Torey Lovullo said Thursday. “If we sacrifice one on the front end, it’s going to pay us dividends on the backend. It was a very open and honest discussion both ways and we both felt that this would be the best decision moving forward.

“The medical team obviously weighed in on that, but Nick is a special human being. He takes of himself as good as anybody I’ve ever been around. We just felt this was the best scenario for us in his situation and for the team to move past Opening Day and look towards tomorrow.”

Lovullo added the plan is to keep things day-by-day regarding Ahmed’s availability.

A partial meniscus tear also has Kole Calhoun on the 10-day injured list to start the season. He’s replaced by Pavin Smith in the outfield.

Additionally, Stephen Vogt, not starting catcher Carson Kelly, is behind the plate.

“I feel very comfortable with either guy catching [Bumgarner]. I’m going to try to establish that mindset throughout the course of the year,” Lovullo said. “You may see it matchup well and of course I’m not going to be stubborn to certain thoughts. At certain times if it’s working, I’ll try to figure out the best way to make it happen, but we need to score some runs.

“Stephen Vogt matches up very well with Yu Darvish. He’s had some success against him, little bit of damage. It’s not to say that Carson can’t, I just felt like on this day at this moment, Stephen Vogt was going to give us the best chance to score some runs and help us win a baseball game.”

First pitch is scheduled for 1:10 p.m. from Petco Park on 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station.

Diamondbacks’ Opening Day starting lineup

SS Josh Rojas
CF Ketel Marte
1B Christian Walker
LF David Peralta
3B Asdrubal Cabrera
2B Eduardo Escobar
RF Pavin Smith
C Stephen Vogt
P Madison Bumgarner

Bumgarner returns to the mound looking to rid the bad taste of a tough 2020. Thursday marks the seventh Opening Day start of his career.

Marte is also looking for a strong bounce-back season after recording just two home runs and watching his OPS drop from .981 in 2019 to .732 in 2020.

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