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Hot-hitting Brandon Drury creates lineup conundrum for D-backs manager Chip Hale

Arizona Diamondbacks' Brandon Drury (27) connects for a home run as Colorado Rockies' Tony Wolters, center, and umpire Jordan Baker (71) watch during the first inning of a baseball game Sunday, May 1, 2016, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

In the opening month of the 2016 season, Brandon Drury didn’t play in six of the Arizona Diamondbacks’ games.

After three pinch-hit at-bats and eight starts, Drury was hitting only .219.

Those days are long behind the 23-year-old, who is now hitting .310 on the year and hasn’t sat out a game since April 23.

Drury has spent time playing at third base, right field, left field and second base, giving manager Chip Hale an even tougher time finding a way to keep him off the lineup sheet for other Opening Day starters.

His six home runs and 13 RBI on the season has him among the leaders of both categories on the team.

The D-backs have had a fair amount of trades with the Atlanta Braves in the past couple of years and Drury was part of one.

Justin Upton and Chris Johnson were sent to Atlanta in exchange for five different players that included starting shortstop Nick Ahmed and Drury.

Johnson is currently with the Miami Marlins and Upton is in Detroit while Ahmed and Durry look like permanent long-term pieces in the D-backs future.

Yahoo! Sports’ Mark Townsend notes that Atlanta might go on to dread that deal for years to come.

While Arizona lost a dimension of its offense with (A.J.) Pollock’s power, speed and all-around skill set now gone, they’ve perhaps gained a different dimension with Drury, whose power looks legit. He’s also shown some versatility, moving to the outfield on occasion to help keep the machine running smoothly for his manager.

Eventually, he’ll have to settle on a position. But make no mistake, the Diamondbacks will make sure he has one as long he keeps hitting. And if he does keep hitting, Braves will be left to wonder what could have been.

Despite A.J. Pollock’s injury opening space, Hale has still struggled to find ways to fit everyone in the lineup.

Yasmany Tomas’ neck injury has helped Drury find time in the most recent Atlanta series, but Jake Lamb and occasionally Nick Ahmed and Tomas earlier in the season have not been favored over Drury on the lineup sheet.

Hale even tried David Peralta in center field and Drury in right field to give him another start despite the projected defensive issues.

There isn’t much room for Drury to start, but if he keeps the pace of hitting .370 in the month of May with 10 multi-hit games on the season, it’s difficult to see how Hale keeps him on the bench.

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