Jon Paul Morosi

D-backs in tough spot early with hole in CF

D-backs in tough spot early with hole in CF

The Arizona D-backs included Ender Inciarte in the December trade for Shelby Miller, because they were confident enough in their outfield depth to part with someone who played more than 1,000 combined defensive innings across the outfield in 2015.

Undoubtedly, they'd love to have him back right now.

With All-Star center fielder A.J. Pollock's season in doubt after breaking his right elbow, the D-backs' outfield surplus has become a potential shortage.

Pollock scores, fractures elbow

For now, the D-backs' options in center are Socrates Brito and Chris Owings. Brito, 23, has started five big league games, all in right field. Owings, 24, has more than 250 games of Major League experience, all as an infielder.

Put another way: Neither of Arizona's current center fielders have started a Major League game in center field.

A couple related points:

• The lack of center-field experience is particularly noteworthy, given that the D-backs' everyday left fielder, Yasmany Tomas, has started only five big league games at his new position. (In fairness, Tomas played the outfield extensively during his career in Cuba and started 54 games for Arizona in right field last year.) For a team with legitimate playoff aspirations, that's a high level of unfamiliarity.

• National League West ballparks have some of the largest outfields in baseball, making communication and cohesion among outfielders all the more essential. Brito and Owings are above-average runners, which should help them chase down balls in the gaps. 

Still, it won't be a surprise if the D-backs add a veteran center fielder to act as a defensive "quarterback" for the outfield amid the transition. Arizona has interest in Will Venable, now in the Minor Leagues with the Phillies, and Michael Bourn, who was recently cut by the Braves.

For now, though, D-backs officials say they will wait to evaluate Brito and Owings before making any moves. They also have veteran outfielder Jason Bourgeois and prospect Evan Marzilli -- an excellent defensive center fielder -- in the Minors if needed.

John Paul Morosi is a columnist for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.