PHOENIX — Chris Owings, in his first full game playing center field in professional baseball, hit a three-run homer to lead the Arizona Diamondbacks over the Kansas City Royals 4-2 on Saturday in the D-backs’ final spring game.
The 24-year-old Owings has been an infielder throughout his career but was pressed into service in center field with A.J. Pollock out for the long term after breaking his right elbow in Friday’s game.
Owings appears poised to start in center on opening day Monday against Rockies left-hander Jorge De La Rosa.
It’s expected natural outfielder Socrates Brito will play in center most often, especially against right-handed pitchers.
Keep in mind that one reason it is likely Chris Owings in CF on opening day for #Dbacks is because they are facing a LHP.
— Steve Gilbert (@SteveGilbertMLB) April 2, 2016
#Dbacks Hale, on replacing CF Pollock: "Brito will be our every day center fielder. Against a lefty, I think Chris matches up better."
— Jack Magruder (@JackMagruder) April 2, 2016
On Saturday, Diamondbacks starter Robbie Ray pitched 4 1-3 innings in his last start before the regular season. The Royals fielded a lineup of mostly minor leaguers.
Ray allowed a run on three hits, struck out six and walked three. Royals starter Yordano Ventura was on a pitch count and threw only two innings before leaving the game.
Ventura gave up a run on four hits with four strikeouts.
It was the spring training finale for both teams. The Royals open defense of their World Series championship Sunday night in Kansas City and the Diamondbacks start the regular season on Monday night.