Owings working hard to improve in center field

Misplay in 5th extends 5-run frame in loss to Cards

Owings working hard to improve in center field

PHOENIX -- As he gets more comfortable in center field, Chris Owings will likely catch a fly ball to right-center like the one Stephen Piscotty hit in the fifth inning Tuesday night.

But after not having played the outfield since prior to high school, he has had to learn on the fly after being thrust out there two days before the season opener when A.J. Pollock broke his elbow. The learning curve showed when Owings was unable to snare Piscotty's drive, which helped prolong a five-run inning and helped the Cardinals hand the D-backs an 8-2 loss.

"I feel like I'm doing pretty good," Owings said of learning the outfield. "Just that ball tonight would have helped us out a lot."

With one out and runners on first and second, Piscotty hit a fly ball to right-center and Owings attempted to make a sliding catch on. He missed the ball and it wound up hitting him in the leg and kicked away for a double.

After that, Randal Grichuk's fly to right was a sacrifice fly instead of the third out, and Brandon Moss followed with a three-run homer off Shelby Miller.

"The changeup to Moss was not a good pitch," D-backs manager Chip Hale said. "But before that we had the fly ball to center that C.O. slid and just kind of got out of position there and it hit off his body. We make that catch it's a different inning."

By all accounts, Owings has done an admirable job in center considering his lack of experience at the position. To try to get better, he's put in a lot of extra work with outfield coach Dave McKay.

"I felt like I got a really good jump on it," Owings said. "I went back and watched the replay and probably could have gotten to it standing up maybe. I felt like when I tried to slide for it my head might have popped up just a little bit and that's what kind of made me move my glove just a tad. I've had a couple of balls recently, a lot of balls on the run. Just trying to get some more experience out there and I feel like I'm working as hard as I can out there. Hopefully next time I get that ball."

Steve Gilbert has covered the D-backs for MLB.com since 2001. Follow him on Twitter @SteveGilbertMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.