Diamondbacks show potential Opening Day lineup at spring training

Mar 11, 2024, 6:14 PM

Arizona Diamondbacks spring training...

Geraldo Perdomo, Joc Pederson and Lourdes Gurriel Jr. during Arizona Diamondbacks spring training at Salt River Fields in Scottsdale, Arizona. (Arizona Sports Photo/Alex Weiner)

(Arizona Sports Photo/Alex Weiner)

SCOTTSDALE — For the first time this spring training, Arizona Diamondbacks manager Torey Lovullo wrote in a complete, potential Opening Day lineup Monday against the Oakland Athletics.

The top four names mirrored Arizona’s batting order during the postseason against right-handed pitching: Corbin Carroll, Ketel Marte, Gabriel Moreno and Christian Walker.

“I think that’s gonna be my starting point,” Lovullo said of the top four. “I think Gabi showed towards the back end of last season he was capable of handling our workload and that responsibility hitting that high up in the lineup, and so I have no reason to believe it’s going to change. … I loved what I saw from him last year, it worked really well for us.”

Moreno jumped up to third for Game 3 of the National League Championship Series against the Philadelphia Phillies and stuck there through the World Series. He has a plus hit tool, really coming on strong after returning from a shoulder injury last year (.311/.382/.496 in 37 games).

The middle of the order worked in new additions Joc Pederson fifth and Eugenio Suarez seventh, with re-signee Lourdes Gurriel Jr. in between. Pederson will balance out a right-handed heavy heart of the order and has a great ability to work at-bats ahead of two righties who combined for 46 homers last season.

The bottom of the order was anchored by Alek Thomas at No. 8 and Geraldo Perdomo at No. 9.

Those have been the clear nine to start games against righties based on the offseason moves Arizona made. Against lefties, there may be twists depending on splits from Pederson and Thomas.

Randal Grichuk took live at-bats against minor leaguers on Monday and will be that right-handed punch the D-backs could deploy once healthy — although he has yet to start base running or fielding.

From there, races continue to fill in backup roles.

Potential Opening Day Lineup vs. RHP

  1. RF Corbin Carroll
  2. 2B Ketel Marte
  3. C Gabriel Moreno
  4. 1B Christian Walker
  5. DH Joc Pederson
  6. LF Lourdes Gurriel Jr.
  7. 3B Eugenio Suarez
  8. CF Alek Thomas
  9. SS Geraldo Perdomo

Lovullo said he’s thinking of flipping Marte and Carroll against lefties as he did in the second half last season.

The D-backs’ starters didn’t get much done offensively on Monday with one run before subs entered, although Carroll, Pederson and Perdomo reached base twice each.

“Maybe a sign of the times where either, one of two things either the guys might be getting a little bored or you gotta tighten up,” Lovullo said. “I’ll figure that out. That’s where I got to come into play here.”

On defense, Moreno threw out his fourth runner of the spring, while Suarez made a sliding stop, delivered a low throw and Walker dug it out to the delight of the third baseman:

Ryne Nelson continues stacking up quality innings

Ryne Nelson would like a hanging slider he threw to Oakland’s Zack Gelof back, but other than a solo shot, he was happy with his fourth outing.

Nelson threw 3.2 innings with one run and got up to 66 pitches. His changeup was more effective, and his slider was down a tick as he looked for greater horizontal movement.

He got seven whiffs and didn’t give up much hard contact.

“I thought I did a lot of things I wanted to do,” Nelson said. “I got the changeup working, and it felt really good today, best it’s felt. Threw some good sliders got some swing-and-miss on it.

“The change hasn’t felt great until this outing, and I feel like I used it really well and got that feeling back for it.”

Nelson has thrown 11.2 innings this spring with three earned runs and 14 strikeouts. Getting more whiffs and finishing off more hitters has been something to watch for Nelson given his struggles with both as a rookie.

Spring training stats are fool’s gold at times because the competition level can be inconsistent. But Nelson’s offseason focuses to find more consistency with the offspeed and create more extension and are both on display thus far as he fights for the fifth rotation spot.

Sewald’s velocity remains down

Arizona also deployed much of its regular season bullpen with Miguel Castro, Paul Sewald, Ryan Thompson and Kevin Ginkel taking the hill.

Sewald got through his outing with 14 pitches and struck out a pair of hitters, although his velocity remains notably down from last year’s averages. This has been the case all spring for the 33-year-old reliever, someone the D-backs are counting on to lock down the ninth inning after years of searching for an answer there.

“He’s said he doesn’t have a lot of velocity in spring training kind of works into it by the end of spring training, so I’m not so concerned about him,” Lovullo said.

Sewald averaged 89.8 mph on the fastball — down 2.4 mph from 2023 — and 83.8 mph on the sweeper — down 3.6 mph. That’s about where he was in his last outing, too.

The right-hander still hasn’t allowed a run this spring. He did not throw a changeup on Monday, a new pitch he is working on adding with sights on becoming an All-Star closer.

Thompson and Ginkel got through scoreless innings, although Castro has had a tough few games, giving up runs in each of his last four appearances.

Rivera gets more looks at shortstop

Lovullo said with the other coaches outside the dugout, he was saying to himself, “Come on, hit the ball to short.”

Emmanuel Rivera made a couple nice plays at the position, including a long throw going to his left. He has never played shortstop as a major leaguer but continues to get reps while the D-backs figure out their infield depth. Rivera can back up both corners, as well, and is out of options entering 2024.

“His clock is solid, he’s got great hands, I just want him to get more familiar with the angles of the ball coming out,” Lovullo said.

Rivera is still getting his work elsewhere, and the plan is he will start at third base with veteran Elvis Andrus taking over shortstop Tuesday against the San Diego Padres. But Lovullo wants to start Rivera at shortstop at some point this spring.

Zac Gallen will make his second start of cactus League Tuesday in Peoria.

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