Marte in mix for D-backs' shortstop job

Marte in mix for D-backs' shortstop job

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- D-backs infielder Ketel Marte looks comfortable in his new D-backs' workout gear. He's already made new friends inside the clubhouse and he's getting accustomed to his surroundings at Salt River Fields.

Where Marte fits on the field will be determined during Spring Training. For now, he's in competition for the starting-shortstop job that D-backs manager Torey Lovullo characterized as "wide open."

"They haven't told me what their plan is for me, but I can't think about that," said Marte, who was acquired from the Mariners with right-hander Taijuan Walker in November in the trade that sent Jean Segura to Seattle. "All I can concentrate on is coming in here and working as hard as I can to earn a job."

The competition at shortstop includes incumbent Nick Ahmed, who is coming back from a hip injury, and Chris Owings, who can play both short and second, like Marte. Owings will also work out in right field this spring.

Add Brandon Drury, who can play second and third, and veteran infielder Daniel Descalso, who can play second, shortstop and third, and the D-backs appear loaded with depth.

"Depth is an important part of a successful organization, so the more pieces we have, the more competition will come out of that," Lovullo said. "[Marte is] right in the thick of the competition as a starting shortstop. We let it be known to all the guys who are in that spot that the competition is wide open."

Marte burst on the scene in 2015, hitting .283/.351/.402 in 57 games for Seattle, a span of 247 plate appearances, after a strong season at Triple-A Tacoma.

He finished the 2016 season with a .259 average, one home run, 33 RBIs, 55 runs scored and 11 stolen bases in 119 games. Marte, 23, spent time on the disabled list because of a sprained left thumb and mononucleosis.

"To bring somebody of his caliber over from another organization, we obviously had to give somebody up," Lovullo said. "But we feel that we got two really strong candidates in return that are going to help this ballclub."

Hazen on Walker, Marte

Marte might already be game ready. He played for the Gigantes del Cibao in the Dominican Winter League and trained all offseason.

"Last year was a tough year because of the injuries, but I'm really happy to be here," he said. "This team has accepted me, and I like the guys in here. I just have to do my part and show my talent. The main reason I played in the Dominican this winter was so I could show up in good shape and make a fresh start and compete. That is what I am here to do."

Jesse Sanchez, who has been writing for since 2001, is a national reporter based in Phoenix. Follow him on Twitter @JesseSanchezMLB and Facebook. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.