8/23/2014 7:13 P.M. ET
Owings will get time at second when he returns
By Adam Lichtenstein / MLB.com
PHOENIX -- If it's possible for any team to have too much middle-infield depth, then the D-backs may be that team.
The last two seasons have hosted the coming-out parties for shortstops Didi Gregorius and Chris Owings, and both young infielders have shown flashes that indicate they could hold down the position in years to come.
Behind the two of them is Nick Ahmed, who made a name for himself by batting down a potential double-play throw to first to clinch a walk-off win for the D-backs on Aug. 3.
With veteran Aaron Hill signed through 2016 and rookie Jake Lamb getting an opportunity to prove himself at third base and Cliff Pennington performing well in a reserve role, that may leave only one open spot for the three players to fight over -- if all those players return.
"We do have a lot of talent there," manager Kirk Gibson said. "I don't know how [general manager Kevin Towers] will do that. … Every team changes every year. Some people are going to be gone, some people are going to be back and there will new additions to every team. I don't know out of our pool of guys who that will be."
So how do you divvy up playing time until then?
Right now, it's easy for Gibson. Owings has been on the disabled list since June 29 with a left shoulder injury, and Ahmed is at Triple-A Reno after a cup of coffee in the Majors. Gibson can pencil Gregorius into the lineup at shortstop nearly every day.
But Owings is currently on a rehab assignment with Reno and could be back with the D-backs shortly. Gibson's plan when the rookie shortstop returns is give him a shot at second base, where he played in Spring Training and where they'll give him some time on his rehab trip. He has played only 30 Major League innings at the position in his short career.
"I know he can play short," Gibson said. "So we have some games left here in the last month, why not put him over there at second?"
Barring any lingering effects from his shoulder injury, Owings looks like the surest bet to be the front-runner for the D-backs' starter at shortstop in 2015. Despite having missed nearly two months, he is fourth on the D-backs in WAR (wins above replacement), according to Fangraphs.com.
Gregorius, on the other hand, has showed off a slick glove, but has struggled at the plate. Through 52 games this season, he has a .213/.296/.362 slash line.
"Those things will work themselves out," Gibson said. "We're not really [talking about] position players very much."
Collmenter gives credit to defensive gems
PHOENIX -- Lost in the midst of Josh Collmenter's excellent start to open the D-backs' series with the Padres on Friday were a trio of excellent defensive plays that helped seal Collmenter's gem.
"The defense made quite a few good plays behind me," Collmenter said.
The first two plays came just a few minutes apart. Padres pitcher Odrisamer Despaigne hit a sinking line drive into right-center field. Center fielder Ender Inciarte charged the ball and caught it on the dive after playing it perfectly, preventing Alexi Amarista from leaving first.
Not to be outdone, fellow rookie Venezuelan outfielder David Peralta made a play just as good one batter later.
Yangervis Solarte hit a one-hopper to Peralta in right field, which Peralta grabbed and hurled to third base, reaching Jake Lamb on the fly and nabbing Amarista by several feet.
"I knew as soon as I threw the ball [that I got him out]," Peralta said.
The final notable defensive play came four innings later at the end of the top of the seventh inning.
Jedd Gyorko grounded the ball into the hole between third base and shortstop. Lamb dove for the ball and missed, but shortstop Didi Gregorius was behind him. Gregorius backhanded the ball, sidearmed it to first and threw Gyorko out.
It wasn't close.
"As soon as I get in [the clubhouse], the guys are already saying funny stuff," Gregorius said. "They told me, 'At least make it look hard.'"
D-backs plan to go to six-man rotation
PHOENIX -- The D-backs are focusing on their pitching staff when it comes time to expand their roster to 40 players, manager Kirk Gibson said Saturday.
Gibson said the team plans to go to a six-man rotation in order to preserve its pitchers' arms, but he said the club has not decided whom that sixth person will be.
"A lot of it depends on [Triple-A] Reno," Gibson said. "They're one game back now. They get in the playoffs, it's a timing thing. If their season ends on time, then you go one way. If the season ends after the playoffs, it changes the way things would play out."
One possible candidate is Randall Delgado, who has been relegated to the bullpen since April.
Delgado made two starts earlier in the season, but they did not go well. He gave up nine runs in 7 1/3 innings and was quickly removed from the rotation. Gibson said if Delgado does join the rotation, he would still need to be stretched out, saying Delgado could throw 55-60 pitches now.
Since then, the 24-year-old has been better, if streaky. In 37 relief appearances, Delgado has a 5.26 ERA, but he is also averaging 11.6 strikeouts per nine innings. In some stretches, he has looked downright dominant.
"He's always had a good fastball and a good changeup," Gibson said. "His breaking ball is much better now.
"There's probably a curiosity, if you gave him a chance to start, would it help him work his way through to more consistency? That question hasn't been answered yet."
Whoever does join the rotation will likely be giving starters Chase Anderson and Josh Collmenter a rest.
Anderson has already passed his highest innings mark of his professional career, and Collmenter is quickly approaching his career high.
"We don't have anything particular right now in stone of how far we let one guy go how many innings," Gibson said. "We have a generalization."
Adam Lichtenstein is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.