Chip Hale takes issue with report that Nick Ahmed is ‘slow to embrace adjustments’

Mar 14, 2016, 1:43 PM

Arizona Diamondbacks' Nick Ahmed celebrates with teammates after scoring son a hit by Socrates Brit...

Arizona Diamondbacks' Nick Ahmed celebrates with teammates after scoring son a hit by Socrates Brito during first inning of a spring baseball game against the Colorado Rockies in Scottsdale, Ariz., Thursday, March 3, 2016. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)

(AP Photo/Chris Carlson)

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Trade rumors will always spread, especially when a team like the Arizona Diamondbacks has so many options at one position.

D-backs manager Chip Hale isn’t surprised that’s the case with what he called three “above-average” shortstops in Nick Ahmed, Jean Segura and Chris Owings.

This week, Ahmed appeared in multiple trade rumors, with The Boston Globe’s Nick Cafardo reporting the St. Louis Cardinals have interest in the defensive specialist following an injury to Jhonny Peralta.

Hale expects such rumors but he did take issue with a later report.

FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal reported Sunday that one Arizona team source believed the Diamondbacks should start Owings at second base and Segura at shortstop, putting Ahmed as an odd-man out and potentially on the trading block.

Ahmed generally is considered the weakest offensive player of the three. He actually had a higher OPS than Segura last season, .634-.616, but is slow to embrace adjustments, the team official said.

“That bothered me,” Hale said Monday before the D-backs faced the Mariners. “I don’t know where that came from. I think ’cause Nick Ahmed is a very educated kid, University of Connecticut, he’s extremely competitive, sometimes comes off to people that he isn’t willing to make adjustments.

“He has been extremely willing to work with any of our hitting coaches, whether it was Turner (Ward) last year. (Dave Magadan) this year, you can ask Mags, he’s been so happy to have Nick. Whatever tinkering we’ve done … he’s been great,” Hale added. “He’s a guy that’s, like I said, a born winner, and he’s doing everything he can to make himself better at the plate.”

Hale planned to sit down with Ahmed to discuss the report and he expects it won’t bother the 25-year-old.

“Nick is up for any battle,” Hale said.

Ahmed is widely considered the best defensive option at shortstop. He was in the top-5 in MLB in defensive runs saved and Hale added that he is a difference-maker whether he’s “hitting .150 or .350.”

Hale also believes this spring would indicate Ahmed indeed has improved behind the plate after hitting .226 with nine home runs and 34 RBI in 2015. The shortstop is 8-of-21 (.381) in seven games. He has scored four runs with six RBI, two doubles and two triples.

Segura, who this offseason was acquired in a trade from the Milwaukee Brewers, has also shined at the plate, hitting 11-of-20 (.550) for five runs and three RBI.

Meanwhile, Owings, who struggled at the plate last year following prolonged rehab due to a shoulder surgery, is looking stronger this spring with a full offseason of weight training work behind him.

“I think physically he was 100 percent, I think his game was maybe 80 percent,” Hale said of Owings’ last season.

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