SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — A year ago the storyline with Chris Owings was whether or not he would make the Arizona Diamondbacks’ Opening Day roster.
This spring the question to be answered is which position Owings will play.
“I don’t know,” he said, smiling.
Owings is taking ground balls at both shortstop and second base, and he’s expected to see time at both spots once he begins playing Cactus League games, likely towards the middle of the month.
The D-backs are progressing cautiously with Owings, who is five months removed from shoulder surgery.
“Things are on schedule,” he said, referring to his recovery from surgery on his left labrum which was performed by Dr. James Andrew on Oct. 2.
Owings hurt the shoulder on an awkward play at the plate against the San Francisco Giants in June. The injury landed him on the disabled list, where he spent two months between rest and strength-building.
“It was frustrating last year,” he said of a season in which he hit. 261 with 27 extra-base hits, including six home runs, and 26 RBI in 91 games. “I was getting on a little streak there and finally starting to get comfortable a little bit.”
Once Owings returned, he found shortstop occupied by Didi Gregorius, whom Owings had beaten out for the job at the start of the year, as well as Cliff Pennington and Nick Ahmed.
So Owings moved to second base and split time with Aaron Hill.
“I got really comfortable over there,” Owings said. “Even when I played rehab down in the minor leagues that’s where I was playing the majority of the games. I’ve been told to play second a little bit here this spring, so I’m going to get a lot of work in and get comfortable over there.”
Counting his 18 starts last September, Owings’ big league resume reads 21 starts at second as compared to 69 at short.
“More of the angle is the biggest thing,” he said of the adjustment. “I remember first going over there just trying — that ball coming off the bat whether it was a lefty or a righty hitting the slice at you. Going to your left and it’s kind of going away from you versus at short, everything is coming into you. So, just a little different working around the bag.”
How the D-backs fill their middle infield is a question that’s expected to take much of spring to answer. Pennington and Ahmed are both back as is Hill, but Gregorius was traded in the offseason.
While the team doesn’t appear to be leaning one way or another, neither is Owings.
“I really don’t,” he said when asked if he had a preference. “I feel comfortable either one. I’ve gotten a ton of work at either spot. Wherever they put me, I’ll be happy.”