Rotation tops D-backs' Spring Training questions

Third base, catcher also among intriguing spots with camp set to begin

Rotation tops D-backs' Spring Training questions

PHOENIX -- D-backs pitchers and catchers will report to Salt River Fields on Thursday for the first of 45 days of Spring Training, and with lots of new faces and competition throughout the roster, it's a good bet the team will need just about all of those days to settle on the Opening Day roster.

First-year manager Chip Hale will push the competition angle hard during the spring. In answer to questions about various positions or spots on the pitching staff, Hale typically responds with some variation of whoever plays the best will play the most.

Camp should have a different feel to it with chief baseball officer Tony La Russa having input into how it will run. Throughout his Hall of Fame managerial career, La Russa's teams were known for being fundamentally sound, so one can be sure that's going to be a big point of emphasis at Salt River Fields.

There will plenty of things to be resolved over the next six weeks, but here is a look at three of the biggest ones:

1. What will the rotation look like?
There are just two locks when it comes to the rotation -- Josh Collmenter and Jeremy Hellickson. There will be a battle for the remaining three slots and the list of candidates includes Chase Anderson, Robbie Ray, Rubby De La Rosa, Allen Watson, Andrew Chafin, Trevor Cahill, Vidal Nuno, Daniel Hudson, Randall Delgado, Yoan Lopez and Archie Bradley.

The biggest challenge for Hale will be figuring out how to get innings for all the starters, so this list may have to get whittled down quickly during the first week or so of games.

Outlook: Anderson, SP, ARI

2. Can Yasmany Tomas be the Opening Day third baseman?
The D-backs signed Tomas to a six-year $68.5 million contract and will give him every opportunity to show that he can play third base. Whether he can remains a question as does whether he is ready to open the season in the big leagues or will need some time in the Minors.

If Tomas can play third, that frees up left field for David Peralta or Ender Inciarte. If Tomas struggles at the position it could open the door for prospect Jake Lamb to make the roster.

Tomas progressing at third base

3. How will the catching situation sort itself out?
The trade of veteran Miguel Montero left the D-backs with a void behind the plate. The team loves the way Tuffy Gosewisch calls a game and handles a staff, and both of those attributes are valued highly by La Russa and first year general manager Dave Stewart. Who backs up Gosewisch is in doubt.

The D-backs selected Oscar Hernandez in the Rule 5 Draft in December, but he would need to make the jump from Class A. Prospect Peter O'Brien probably needs some more time in the Minors. The D-backs also have Gerald Laird, Blake Lalli, Jordan Pacheco, Matt Pagnozzi and Mark Thomas coming to camp as non-roster invitees.

Gosewisch nabs Descalso

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.