Diamondbacks’ infielder/outfielder Chris Owings is preparing for another defensive switch in 2017, the Arizona Republic’s Nick Piecoro writes. According to GM Mike Hazen, the 25-year-old will see some time in the outfield corners during spring training in order to provide the club with extra insurance in case of injury.
That strategy worked out well for the Diamondbacks in 2016, when Owings filled in for starting center fielder A.J. Pollock after Pollock suffered a season-ending elbow injury during spring training. It was a significant switch for Owings, who had previously only seen time in the middle infield over three seasons in the big leagues.
Per Piecoro’s report, Hazen envisions Owings in a Brock Holt-like role for the club, one that spans multiple infield/outfield positions. Ideally, Piecoro writes, he’d form a platoon with outfielder David Peralta against left-handed pitchers.
“I think there’s a lot of versatility on the roster, to be honest with you, and he’s fantastic at it,” Hazen said. “He was one of our best outfielders with no preparation last year. I think that speaks to his athleticism and skill. I would surprised if he went just about anywhere on the field and didn’t look pretty natural.”
Owings’ defensive flexibility should also afford him more at-bats in the lineup, something that appeals to Arizona management after watching his performance at the plate in 2016. Owings carried a .277/.315/.416 batting line with a career-best 21 stolen bases and 40 extra bases over 466 PA. The way Hazen sees it, keeping him on as the team’s everyday backup would allow them to preserve his bat in the lineup while looking to their Triple-A affiliate for extra support off the bench.