Athleticism helping Owings adjust to center

Athleticism helping Owings adjust to center

PHOENIX -- What D-backs manager Chip Hale has seen with his eyes has been confirmed by the numbers: Chris Owings' play in center field has earned a rating of plus-8 in defensive runs saved above average, as tracked by Baseball Info Solutions.

"We've seen the numbers, and it's not surprising," Hale said before Owings went 2-for-4 with an RBI double in Saturday's 5-3 loss to the Giants. "He gets to a lot of balls. It's been very impressive. And to continue to get better as a hitter while he's learning a new position also is very impressive."

Now consider that Owings hadn't played the position in a game professionally and didn't have any Spring Training time to prepare before A.J. Pollock's elbow injury and subsequent surgery forced the position change.

"You don't see something like this very often," Hale said. "It does show the importance, though, of having good athletes on the team. [Owings] can fly, and he's one of our best basestealers. He's one of those guys who could probably play anywhere.

"We watched him all last year go out and power shag in the outfield [during batting practice] and he did an unbelievable job out there. That's really the best way to get better at any position -- go out there and play the ball off the bat."

Owings' RBI double

Owings downplays the switch and credits help from first-base coach/outfield instructor Dave McKay, Pollock and others in helping with positioning, reading balls off the bat and taking proper routes to the ball.

"Shortstop is one of the toughest positions on the field, and tons of people have said if you can play shortstop you can play anywhere," Owings said.

"I'm trying to be a sponge and absorb as much information as I can. You try to keep all that in mind while you're out there. But a lot of it comes down to just being an athlete out there. You want to be in there every day, so whatever opportunity there is to get out there and help this team, I'm going to do it."

Owings also hasn't committed an error in center field and has three outfield assists. He also raised his batting average to .295 with a 12-for-29 stretch over his previous seven games.

He will remain the everyday option in center field for at least a few more days, as David Peralta still is idled by soreness in his right wrist. Peralta said he will swing a bat Sunday and continues to undergo treatments, including ultrasound and icing.

Saturday's game was the sixth Peralta has missed, and Hale said the club is close to making a decision on whether to put Peralta on the disabled list.

"I really want to play," Peralta said Saturday. "I really want to help the team. But I also have to be smart. It's feeling much better today. I just have to be patient until I can get back into the lineup."

Tony DeMarco is a contributor to MLB.com based in Phoenix. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.