ARIZONA DIAMONDBACKS

When will the Diamondbacks finalize their Opening Day roster?

Mar 16, 2024, 6:00 PM | Updated: 9:35 pm

Arizona Diamondbacks manager Torey Lovullo...

Arizona Diamondbacks manager Torey Lovullo gives high-fives in the dugout prior to a spring training baseball game against the Oakland Athletics Monday, March 11, 2024, in Scottsdale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

(AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

The Arizona Diamondbacks’ ongoing spring training battles are shortly coming down to an end.

Opening Day is 12 days away, and manager Torey Lovullo told Arizona Sports’ Burns & Gambo he’d like to finalize the roster before playing two exhibition games against the Cleveland Guardians at Chase Field on March 25-26.

“We don’t like to go into the last couple of days with our exhibition games at home still having to make moves, I want the boys to know who the 26 are,” Lovullo said. “So before we leave Salt River to head over to Chase Field, we will have made those announcements and the players will know exactly what’s going on.

“We might have one decision we’re still playing with up until the very end. But the plan is, as it’s always been before the start of those exhibition games at Chase, we want to know.”

Lovullo said he feels that is the fair way to get players prepared whether they are sticking around Phoenix or heading to Triple-A Reno.

Last year, the D-backs announced their 26-man roster two days before the season opener at Dodger Stadium.

The Diamondbacks have 40 players in big league camp, including a small group of non-roster invitees including catcher Tucker Barnhart, shortstop Elvis Andrus and utility infielder Kevin Newman.

The ongoing battles are for the fifth starting pitcher, backup catcher, bench spots and in the bullpen. They have been whittled down some with reassignments to minor league camp and options.

Ryne Nelson has shown the best results from the fifth starter race with a 2.93 ERA and 20 strikeouts in 19 innings. Spring training results are not the be-all, end-all for these decisions, but Nelson has been a standout in these games.

“What does it look like as it’s crossing home plate with velocity, with the depth of stuff, with the finish, with the ride, carry, sink? All of that stuff,” Lovullo said is what he looks for. “And then what does the hitter’s barrel do to the baseball? Is it missing? Is it squared up? Is it on time? … I’m adding up velocities, exit velocities and stuff like that. But I want guys to attack the zone, plain and simple. Attack the zone and don’t walk batters.”

Nelson and fellow frontrunner Tommy Henry are lined up for one more start each before the exhibitions.

“I think the nice part about it is that type of decision, while we want to get it right out of the gate, it’s not necessarily an irreversible decision,” assistant general manager Mike Fitzgerald told Arizona Sports’ Wolf & Luke this week. “We kind of get a chance to say, ‘Hey, this is where we think our feet are today. This is the guy we think is going to give us the best chance to win that fifth game of the year.’ And we can still read and react on how the first couple of weeks go.”

The decision for fifth starter carries into the bullpen, as the club determines whether it wants to use a young starting pitcher in a length role. Do the D-backs want two or three lefties in there?

Lovullo has said outfielder Randal Grichuk is still on track for Opening Day, but he has yet to play in a game. If he cannot go come March 28, what does the construction of the outfield depth look like?

Lots to figure out and not a lot of spring training games remaining (nine after Saturday, including a pair of split-squad days), although the D-backs are in the fortunate position not to be pondering bigger questions such as everyday starters or top-end rotation pieces.

Diamondbacks position battles

C (1): Tucker Barnhart, Jose Herrera

Bench bats (2 or 3): INF Emmanuel Rivera, INF Jace Peterson, INF Blaze Alexander, INF Elvis Andrus, INF Kevin Newman, INF/OF Pavin Smith, OF Jake McCarthy

Fifth starter (1): RHP Ryne Nelson, LHP Tommy Henry, RHP Slade Cecconi, RHP Bryce Jarvis

Bullpen (2): RHP Luis Frias, RHP Corbin Martin, LHP Kyle Nelson, LHP Andrew Saalfrank, fifth starter runners up

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When will the Diamondbacks finalize their Opening Day roster?