03/20/11 5:14 PM ET
Allen playing to be D-backs' first option
Competition to be club's Opening Day first baseman continues
By Steve Gilbert / MLB.com
And he might not even make the D-backs' Opening Day roster.
But if he doesn't, it certainly won't be for lack of effort or a bad attitude.
"He's just very businesslike," D-backs manager Kirk Gibson said. "Comes out every day and is prepared. He has an outstanding attitude. That's one of his strengths for sure."
Allen hasn't done a bad job on the field this spring either. Coming into Sunday's game, he was hitting .341 with five doubles, one homer and nine RBIs while battling Juan Miranda and Russell Branyan for playing time.
It appeared that the first-base battle was going to come down to Allen and Miranda when Spring Training started, but the D-backs went out and signed Branyan to a Minor League deal just after camp opened. Branyan, who has an opt-out clause in his contract if he's not added to the roster by Friday, has pounded the ball thus far.
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Defense, though, is not Branyan's forte and Gibson, along with GM Kevin Towers, have said that defense will be an important part of the decision-making process.
Miranda has shown flashes at the plate, drawing 10 walks while hitting three homers, and has played better-than-expected defense.
"You watch everybody and see how they're doing, but the reality is you just have to be yourself, take care of yourself and have good games, good ABs when you have the opportunity," Allen said. "The more pressure you put on yourself, the worse you're going to do."
The D-backs acquired Allen from the White Sox in July of 2009 and in 38 games for Triple-A Reno he posted a 1.055 OPS (on-base plus slugging). That earned him a promotion to the big leagues where he struggled to a .202 batting average in 116 plate appearances.
During the following offseason, the D-backs signed free agent Adam LaRoche to play first base and Allen found himself in Reno again.
And once again Allen dominated, compiling a .933 OPS before getting a late-season promotion.
Even with the D-backs well on their way to a second straight last-place finish and even though Allen had added left field to his defensive bag of tricks, playing time was hard to come by for him and he wound up hitting .267 in just 56 plate appearances.
Again, this offseason, the D-backs went hunting for a first baseman, acquiring Miranda from the Yankees.
Yet, Allen has never seemed to be discouraged by the situation, refusing to even say he has nothing left to prove at the Triple-A level.
"There's always something to prove," he said. "You can have a winning team, win a championship, winning a batting title, you can always push yourself towards something wherever you're at. So if I go back down, I'll try to have an even better season there."
Instead of pouting, Allen has done everything asked.
"He doesn't expect anything to be handed to him," Gibson said. "He enjoys the competition. He'll start, no problem. Sit and make him come in later, no problem. Pinch-hit, no problem. He adds flexibility because he can play more than one position and that's appealing. It's not going to be easy."
It is an attitude he says he's gotten from his parents.
"Just roll with it, go with it," Allen said. "There's nowhere to go but up, that's just the way I take it. Whatever comes your way you've just got to make the best of it."