All-Star center fielder to have elbow surgery Tuesday
By Jesse Sanchez
PHOENIX -- The D-backs have not ruled out adding outfield depth from outside of the organization, but are committed to using Chris Owings and Socrates Brito in center field after the potential season-ending injury to starting center fielder A.J. Pollock.
"We are not going to put our heads in the sand," D-backs general manager Dave Stewart said. "C.O. hasn't played any center field and Brito has played mostly the corners and he's kind of learning that. We got to keep our eyes open. If they show us they can't play, we might have to do something different, but we are going to allow them to show us they can't play."
The right-handed-hitting Owings, whose 258 big league appearances have all been in the infield, started in center field Monday against the Rockies and left-hander Jorge De La Rosa. Brito, who has made all five of his big league starts in right field last season, could start Tuesday against Rockies right-hander Chad Bettis. Brito made one appearance in left field and one in center field for the D-backs in 2015.
Pollock hit .315/.367/.498 with a career-high 192 hits, 20 home runs and 76 RBIs last season. He also won a Gold Glove.
Brito said he's up to the challenge of playing center field every day if needed.
"I'll do whatever they want me to do here," Brito said in Spanish. "If they need me in center, that's what I'll do. If they need me off the bench, that's what I will do. I prepared to do what I can and take advantage of this opportunity and help this team win."
Owings, who played the position during the exhibition games against the Royals last weekend, was told he could be an option in center field, even before the injury to Pollock and dating back to 2014 when former D-backs manager Kirk Gibson brought it up. That said, most of Owings' experience at the position has come from shagging balls during Spring Training.
"It's nothing crazy new," Owings said. "It's been a while since I have been out there, but I got comfortable out there and I feel like I can get good jumps on the ball. A.J. is talking to me a little bit about as an infielder, you are on your toes and ready to go forward. As an outfielder, you have to be on your heels a little bit. You don't want to get beat behind you."
As for Pollock, the All-Star fractured his right elbow during Spring Training in 2010 and missed the season before returning for the Arizona Fall League that October. A timetable for his return has not been announced. The outfielder did not want to speculate on how long it will take for the broken bone to heal.
"My No. 1 thing is that when it's ready, I want to make sure that I'm not just out there and I'm playing at a very high level and able to help this team win," Pollock said. "Just simply being out there, I don't think it's good, especially with the type of players we have. It won't make sense to be out there just to be out there. I'm going to make sure it's right. I'm itching to get out there. I don't really want to put a date on it, but I'll be itching to get out there as early as I can."
D-backs wearing Garagiola patch
The D-backs will wear a special patch this season to honor the legacy of Joe Garagiola Sr. The baseball legend was a broadcaster for the team from 1998-2012.
"He's meant so much to this organization," All-Star first baseman Paul Goldschmidt said. "We will try to honor his memory and play the game like he would want us to."
Jesse Sanchez is a national reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @JesseSanchezMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.