D-backs' roster decisions could go down to wire

D-backs' roster decisions could go down to wire

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- The battle among position players for the final spots on the D-backs' 25-man roster is so spirited right now, those decisions may not be determined until the final two days of the spring, manager Chip Hale said prior to Monday night's 3-2 win against the Brewers.

The D-backs finish the Cactus League portion of their exhibition schedule on March 31 at Salt River Fields against the Rockies, and then they move downtown to Chase Field for a pair of games against the Royals on April 1-2.

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The regular season begins on April 4 at home against the Rockies, and the baseball-operations staff has to make these choices beforehand.

"When will we have those talks? Probably right before Opening Day," Hale said. "Maybe even during those two games [vs. the Royals]."

In the infield alone, Nick Ahmed, Jean Segura and Chris Owings are battling to determine the starters at second base and shortstop. Jake Lamb and Brandon Drury are both vying to be the starter at third. Only All-Star first baseman Paul Goldschmidt is assured of a starting role. Whomever doesn't win a starting role will join the versatile Phil Gosselin as options for backup gigs.

They're all making it rough on management. The spring batting averages for that dirty half-dozen range from Segura at .541 at the top end to Lamb's .286 at the low. Lamb didn't help himself by making three errors at third on Monday night.

"Maybe we're looking at six [infield] positions, who knows?" Hale said. "I mean, it's going to be a tough decision. I actually told them in the group talk today, I told them, 'We're cutting people down.' We cut some guys, but this competition is unbelievable.

"I want them to understand that when we make the 25, the competition doesn't stop there. Maybe that's why we're having such a good spring here. They're fighting for their lives."

Bradley among 5 sent to D-backs' Minors camp

The D-backs cut five players on Monday, but none of them were infielders. The likely scenario is the makeup of the team opening the season could be four outfielders, six infielders, two catchers and 13 pitchers. But that configuration will change based on injuries and performance.

Center fielder A.J. Pollock, for example, has been out since March 8 with a sore right elbow and has only had eight at-bats this spring. He took live batting practice on Monday, but Hale said there's no timetable right now for him to get back into real games. It's not unrealistic that Pollock could start the season on the disabled list. 

For the guys who've had a torrid spring, the prospect of another Minor League tour is not very appetizing.

"You don't want to go back," said Hale, once a middle infielder who rode those rails often during his seven-year big league career. "Speaking from a guy who went back three, four, five times, it's no fun. It's a lot more fun flying those charter flights."

Barry M. Bloom is a national reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, Boomskie on Baseball. Follow @boomskie on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.