Blaze Alexander did all he could to make Diamondbacks’ Opening Day roster

Mar 28, 2024, 5:03 PM

Blaze Alexander...

Blaze Alexander #62 of the Arizona Diamondbacks gestures after hitting a single during the Spring Training game against the San Diego Padres at Peoria Sports Complex on March 12, 2024 in Peoria, Arizona. (Photo by John E. Moore III/Getty Images)

(Photo by John E. Moore III/Getty Images)

PHOENIX — Arizona Diamondbacks infield prospect Blaze Alexander put together a spring training too eye-opening to leave off the 26-man roster come Opening Day.

But when the time came to find out, Alexander didn’t know what to expect, saying, “you don’t know until you’re in there looking Torey (Lovullo) in the eye.”

Alexander was called into Lovullo’s office on Wednesday evening and received the news every player dreams of. He made the cut, and better yet, he was pegged to start as the designated hitter on Opening Day at Chase Field on Thursday against the Colorado Rockies.

“I teared up in the car a little bit, just driving, listening to music, songs that motivate me,” Alexander said ahead of his MLB debut. “My dreams came true. It was just, I don’t know, it’s really cool.”

Alexander said he was relieved to be called into the office, as he was thinking about what his future held the previous three days.

In the exchange recorded and posted by the Diamondbacks’ social media team, Lovullo asked Alexander what family he had in the area, and the prospect responded he lives at home with his parents in town.

That’s when Lovullo said they better find great seats.

“A couple guys like (Ketel) Marte, they mentioned yesterday getting called up is one thing, but being on that Opening Day roster — and I’m starting — it’s a blessing,” Alexander said.

The infielder said his parents aren’t getting rid of him yet with no trip to Reno scheduled.

The 24-year-old entered the spring in a battle for the backup shortstop spot behind Geraldo Perdomo, and he fittingly punctuated camp with a 444-foot shot to the second deck at Chase Field during the final exhibition game on Tuesday.

Alexander put on a full showcase during Cactus League from defensive versatility and athleticism to speed and the ability to drive the ball. He played shortstop, second base and third base, hitting .400 with five steals while balancing out different positions.

General manager Mike Hazen described his better at-bat quality than in the past. Alexander made the team over incumbent infielder Emmanuel Rivera, who was designated for assignment.

Lovullo said he and Alexander had some tough conversations early in spring training, though, as not everything went off without a hitch.

The manager pointed to some defensive inconsistency early and a moment during a game at the Cincinnati Reds in which he “dressed up” a double and had to turn on the jets when the ball didn’t leave the yard.

But Lovullo said that was the last time something like that happened.

“Some of the things he wasn’t doing the right way, the Diamondback way, and he evolved into being a very consistent baseball player that was doing things at a very high level the way that we all want him to,” Lovullo said. “So when you watch a player evolve and deserve this opportunity, he’s so easy to root for.”

Hazen said Alexander had as good a spring training as anyone in D-backs camp.

“He’s doing everything to show us that he’s ready to handle that workload … he’s made it extremely tough,” Lovullo said this week before the roster was finalized. “I want young players to make these decisions and conversations as long and grinding on the staff as possible. He’s doing everything he possibly can.”

Alexander was part of the 2018 draft class that included Alek Thomas and Jake McCarthy. He was taken from IMG Academy in the 11th round.

He spent all of 2023 in Triple-A Reno on the 40-man roster, the doorstep of the major leagues but he didn’t get the call.

Alexander was slotted into the No. 7 hole against Colorado’s Kyle Freeland on Thursday, starting over free agent acquisition Joc Pederson, a left-handed power bat who has struggled against southpaws.

First pitch is at 7:10 p.m. on 98.7 and the Arizona Sports app. 

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Blaze Alexander did all he could to make Diamondbacks’ Opening Day roster