Didi, Owings vie for spot at shortstop, in Majors
Whoever doesn't win main spring competition likely to open year in Triple-A
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- The biggest position-player battle for the D-backs this spring is at shortstop, with Didi Gregorius, Chris Owings and Cliff Pennington vying for playing time.
Pennington, a versatile veteran, figures to make the team in a reserve role while youngsters Gregorius and Owings battle for the starting job.
While neither Gregorius or Owings has much, if anything, left to prove in the Minors, that's the likely destination for whichever one loses out in the battle for the starting job.
"I think it would be hard," D-backs general manager Kevin Towers said of keeping both young players at the big league level. "I don't think it's good for their development. They're both everyday type players and they're ready to be everyday type players. I would just hate for one of those kids to be sitting on the bench and playing once or twice a week. They'd be better off being in Triple-A, getting at-bats and getting ready in case there's an injury."
Gregorius saw more big league time than Owings, joining the D-backs in April last season, while Owings was a September callup.
Gregorius started off hot at the plate, but he slumped as the year went on, with his monthly batting average from April to September going .407, .293, .241, .234, .197 and .182.
Owings, meanwhile hit .330 for Triple-A Reno of the Pacific Coast League and .291 for the D-backs in September.
"To me, the favorite has to be Didi," Towers said. "He was our shortstop last year. For a rookie, I thought he played very, very well. Great defender. He got off to a real hot start. The league probably caught up with him a little bit at the end. He probably got a little bit tired.
"Chris Owings was the MVP of the PCL and performed very well in September. I think 'Penny' knows he's in the competition, but these are two guys that are probably more of the future, and he's going to be supporting one or the other or maybe both. But it should be very competitive, and I look forward to watching them go out and play and compete."
D-backs players appreciative of Arroyo move
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- The D-backs did not officially announce the signing of free agent Bronson Arroyo on Saturday because the right-hander still must undergo a physical exam, but his new teammates expressed their approval of the move.
"We're fortunate to have him, and he can be a really good quality arm for us," reliever Brad Ziegler said. "[He's a] bullpen saver, go out and throw seven, eight innings every time out."
Arroyo, who turns 37 later this month, was 14-12 with a 3.79 ERA last season for the Reds, and he has been a workhorse during his career. Over the last nine seasons, he has thrown at least 199 innings.
The righty's addition gives the Arizona rotation greater depth. With Patrick Corbin, Arroyo, Wade Miley, Trevor Cahill and Brandon McCarthy now appearing to have spots, it allows the team to be patient with top prospect Archie Bradley.
It also means that Randall Delgado could either be moved to the bullpen, where some think he is better suited, or sent to Triple-A to start and be ready should one of the other starters get injured or falter.
"It's good to have a guy with that kind of experience in the rotation, especially with a bunch of young pitchers," catcher Miguel Montero said. "He takes the ball every five days regardless, and he eats innings. He knows what he's doing on the mound. I see him like Livan Hernandez pretty much."
After back-to-back 81-81 seasons, the D-backs' front office has boosted the payroll to a record level. Arroyo's addition pushed the figure to around $108 million, surpassing the previous high of $102 million in 2002.
"We know they want to win, obviously, so we know they're trying their best," Montero said of ownership. "It tells us a lot. They're trying their best to give us the best team they can. As a player, you really appreciate that from the front office. They're here with you. They want the guys to go out there and win, whatever it takes. It's good for all the players to see they're trying as we are."
Steve Gilbert is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Inside the D-backs, and follow him on Twitter @SteveGilbertMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.