ARIZONA DIAMONDBACKS

15-year vet Elvis Andrus joins Diamondbacks’ backup shortstop race

Mar 3, 2024, 1:49 PM

Elvis Andrus...

Elvis Andrus #1 of the Chicago White Sox reacts following a double during the first inning against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Guaranteed Rate Field on September 26, 2023 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Nuccio DiNuzzo/Getty Images)

(Photo by Nuccio DiNuzzo/Getty Images)

SCOTTSDALE — The Arizona Diamondbacks signed 15-year MLB veteran shortstop Elvis Andrus to a minor league contract with an invitation to major league spring training on Sunday.

Andrus, 35, was in the clubhouse at Salt River Fields catching up with his new teammates. He will join Arizona’s backup shortstop race behind starter Geraldo Perdomo.

“I’ve always been a fan of Elvis, plays the game hard, he plays the game right, he’s been doing it at a very high level from a very young age,” manager Torey Lovullo said.

“So the fact he was available and we can bring somebody we feel like still has good baseball left in him into the fold here to go out and compete is very exciting. Getting a chance to meet him for the first time was exciting for me. I’m a baseball fan, and he’s been a proven winner. He’s been a proven good player and just wanted to pick his brain and talk for a few minutes.”

Andrus made his MLB debut at 20 years old for the Texas Rangers, where he spent the first 12 seasons of his career. He was Texas’ starting shortstop for the 2010 and 2011 World Series, losses to the San Francisco Giants and St. Louis Cardinals.

The right-handed hitter from Venezuela made a pair of All-Star Games early in his career, and D-backs bench coach Jeff Banister managed Andrus from 2015-18.

Andrus spent the 2023 season with the Chicago White Sox, playing 112 games with a .251/.304/.358 slash line, six home runs and 12 steals. He hit 17 homers and stole 18 bases in 2022 between the Oakland Athletics and White Sox.

He has 347 career stolen bases, the most among active MLB players at the end of last season. His 2,091 hits rank third among active players behind free agent Joey Votto and Los Angeles Dodgers first baseman Freddie Freeman.

The veteran has consistently been a quality defender up the middle, and that continued in 2023 with six outs above average despite the offensive down year.

The backup shortstop competition includes Emmanuel Rivera and Jace Peterson, who platooned at third base after the trade deadline last year and will continue to get reps at short in camp. Kevin Newman is a fellow non-roster invitee in the mix as a right-handed option.

Prospects Blaze Alexander and Jordan Lawlar continue to compete, although the D-backs have been clear about wanting Lawlar to play regularly at shortstop which wouldn’t be the case behind Perdomo to start the year.

Alexander has been a standout defensively at three positions and entered Sunday 7-for-15 with two triples in spring training games.

“It’s an opportunity, that’s what I told (Andrus), there’s nothing that’s been promised to him,” Lovullo said. “There’s a lot of moving parts to some very key decisions … his name is going to enter into those conversations. That’s my expectation, and he will get an opportunity and that’s all he asked for.”

When asked what Lovullo wants in a backup shortstop, the manager highlighted defensive consistency and someone who can give a quality at-bat regardless which side of the plate they hit from.

Diamondbacks reassign Yu-Min Lin, Ivan Melendez to minor league camp

The D-backs reassigned nine players to minor league spring training camp on Sunday, including top pitching prospect Yu-Min Lin.

– RHP Christian Montes De Oca

– RHP Austin Pope

– LHP Yu-Min Lin

– LHP Konnor Pilkington

– C J.J. D’Orazio

– C Ronaldo Hernández

– C Caleb Roberts

– INF Ivan Melendez

– OF A.J. Vukovich

Lovullo said he’s seen Lin’s plus stuff but also inconsistencies this spring. Lin, 20, turned heads with his bullpens and a particularly sharp live batting practice session, but he struggled with command in a spring training game against the Oakland Athletics to the tune of five runs in an inning.

“The shape of his pitches, the velocity to his fastball, I liked all that stuff,” Lovullo said.

“It just was in a bag that was a little mixed up … I challenged him to be a little more consistent and I know that he is. He can land four or five pitches per at-bat, different shapes, different spins, different angles to the plate but to get to that as soon as possible and continue progressing.”

The moves leave four catchers in big league camp with an ongoing competition behind starter Gabriel Moreno: Jose Herrera, Tucker Barnhart and Adrian Del Castillo.

Diamondbacks injury updates

Lovullo anticipates getting outfielder Alek Thomas (wrist), Peterson (wrist), first baseman Christian Walker (hand) and third baseman Eugenio Suarez (side) back in games from injury early this coming week.

Thomas took batting practice on Sunday. Lovullo said Peterson would likely be in the lineup on Monday with the goal to get the other three in a game on Tuesday before a Wednesday off day.

Outfielder Randal Grichuk (ankle) has been hitting in the cage and starting to transition into more baseball activity.

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