Hale: D-backs minor leaguer Peter O’Brien ‘knocking on the door’
As six Arizona Diamondbacks continue to rotate in the outfield, manager Chip Hale realizes the practice isn’t sustainable.
More accurately, the production isn’t sustainable.
Hale told Burns and Gambo on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM that he has begun thinking about whether it would suit one or more of his outfielders to head to the minors in order to find a rhythm by playing every day.
Whether that player is second-year MLB pro Yasmany Tomas, youngster Brandon Drury or anyone else, assigning one player to Triple-A Reno is an easier decision considering who could fill in.
“We have a situation here where a guy like Peter O’Brien is knocking on the door,” Hale said of the Triple-A outfielder who has 21 RBI and five home runs in his last nine games. “We have a tough decision to make here pretty quickly of who’s going to get that opportunity to go down there and get some more at-bats. Yasmany is definitely in the thought plan of that. Could it help him? We have to think about it.
“He has his good at-bat a game. It’s been helpful. He beat (Cubs pitcher Jake) Arrieta with a two-RBI double,” Hale added. “It’s a tough one. It’s hard to watch some of his at-bats but, you know, the adjustment part of it is what we need him to get better at and just understand what pitchers are trying to do to him.”
Tomas began 2016 batting .276 with 12 RBI and five homers in the month of April but has watched his average steadily decline to .259 through six games in June.
Drury likewise has cooled off after a strong start to the season. He’s also been thrown into the fire as an infielder-turned-outfielder since he made the opening day roster.
Tomas and Drury may be the leading candidates to head to the minors, but veterans like Rickie Weeks Jr., Michael Bourn and David Peralta — who just returned from the disabled list — have also put together sub-standard seasons thus far.
“They’re going to have to step up and play better or we’re going to have to make changes,” Hale said.
For Triple-A Reno, O’Brien is batting .337 for the year and in 50 games has tallied 70 hits, 17 home runs and 52 RBI. And if the Diamondbacks promote him, don’t expect them to ease O’Brien into the lineup.
Arizona won’t be making a call-up as a courtesy to the 25-year-old outfielder. Hale is looking for immediate production.
“I think that’s the thinking here is if (O’Brien is) going to get an opportunity, we need to bring him here to play every day and give us a little spark in the middle of our lineup,” the manager told Burns and Gambo. “We always preach competition here in this organization … when a guy performs like he has at the highest level of our minor league system then he probably deserves an opportunity to come here and show us what he’s got.”