Hale: Tomas needs to improve at third before Opening Day

Hale: Tomas needs to improve at third before Opening Day

MESA, Ariz. -- D-backs manager Chip Hale said Tuesday that Yasmany Tomas will need to improve at third base in order for the team to feel comfortable starting him there on Opening Day.

"I think he needs to be better than what we've seen," Hale said of the Cuban newcomer. "Mostly just the focus. I think the plays he's not making is because maybe he loses focus. He needs to know that every play at third base, every pitch he's got to be ready. So if we see that, I think the physical part of it -- catching the ball and moving to the ball -- I think he can do it."

Tomas, signed to a $68.5 million free-agent contract this offseason, played mainly in the outfield in Cuba. Since he began work at third base in January, the D-backs have been pleased with the progress he has made with the mechanics of the position.

"I think as big as he is, he's shown the quick feet and the ability to make certain plays," Hale said. "So now you say in your mind, 'He made that one. Why didn't he make this one?' So then you start to play the mental game. That's what I need to see more of. But the physical part of it, I think we're seeing he can handle it. He'll get it, he's a quick learner."

The aspect of his game that the D-backs are really counting on is his offense. Tomas has prodigious power, which he displayed Tuesday with an opposite-field homer off A's ace Sonny Gray, his first of the spring.

"We don't need him to be Gold Glove," Hale said. "We need him to catch the ball. The routine plays he needs to make. The diving plays, that's a bonus right now. He just has to make the routine plays and hit."

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.