ARIZONA DIAMONDBACKS

D-backs’ Mike Hazen: Ketel Marte to play 2B; utility guys given ‘more defined’ roles

Mar 16, 2022, 7:47 PM
Arizona Diamondbacks general manager Mike Hazen speaks to reporters the day before spring training ...
Arizona Diamondbacks general manager Mike Hazen speaks to reporters the day before spring training starts at Salt River Fields in Scottsdale, Arizona, on March 16, 2022. (Arizona Sports Photo/Jake Anderson)
(Arizona Sports Photo/Jake Anderson)

SCOTTSDALE — Believe it or not, spring training is set to commence on Thursday.

And with Opening Day on April 7 against the San Diego Padres at Chase Field, Arizona Diamondbacks general manager Mike Hazen still has some fine-tuning work to do prior to first pitch following the end of a 99-day lockout.

The first order of business for the GM is to narrow down which positions some of the utility guys will be playing such as center fielder/second baseman Ketel Marte.

Hazen said on Wednesday that the 2019 All-Star 2B will be playing second base in 2022 after the 28-year-old Dominican played 71 games in CF last season and 20 at second.

Another infielder/outfielder that Hazen wants to consolidate positionally is Pavin Smith. Last year, the 26-year-old lefty played 98 games in the OF (53 RF, 39 CF, 22 LF) and 54 games at first base.

“We’re probably going to be more defined with how we deploy Pavin,” Hazen said. “Not to say that we’re not going to have to branch out into other areas.

“But right field and first base is probably going to be more of the focus than focusing on three outfield positions and first base.”

So with Marte moving from center field to second base primarily and Smith staying on the right side of the diamond, who will be playing center field once spring training ends?

Well, another versatile youngster in Daulton Varsho could be up for the task after playing 49 games in the outfield last season (30 CF, 12 LF, 12 RF) and 41 behind the dish. However, with starting catcher Carson Kelly fully healthy once again, the Diamondbacks will presumably need to acquire another catcher following the departure of Stephen Vogt.

“That is an area of discussion currently,” Hazen said of acquiring another catcher. “I would imagine that depending on how much center field or outfield (Varsho) would play that it would necessitate another catcher.”

And for the first time in MLB history, both the American and National leagues will have designated hitters for a full 162-game season. The DH made a 60-game cameo in the NL in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic-shortened season.

However, the Diamondbacks general manager noted that he doesn’t know who the Opening Day DH is just yet and finding a full-time designated hitter may take some time at first.

“Our model at least initially is going to necessitate us maneuvering through that position a little bit,” Hazen said.

ZAC GALLEN SHOULDER UPDATE

Gallen was diagnosed with bursitis — an inflammation of fluid-based sacs in a joint — on Monday and is questionable for his Opening Day start.

“It’s not a concern from a long-term standpoint,” Hazen said. “How he ramps up into the season — we’ll be very mindful of that. He threw a pen yesterday and felt great.

“Where he’s at in the actual timeline ramping up to this Opening Day — we’ll see where that goes. But we’ll certainly be mindful of his long-term health what’s best for the team and for him.”

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