PHOENIX — Before the Diamondbacks played their final exhibition game of the spring Saturday, manager Kirk Gibson announced his Opening Day lineup. Barring additional injury, the D-backs’ lineup card will look like this against the Cardinals on Monday night:
1. Gerardo Parra, RF 2. Martin Prado, 3B 3. Aaron Hill, 2B 4. Miguel Montero, C 5. Paul Goldschmidt, 1B 6. Jason Kubel, LF 7. A.J. Pollock, CF 8. Cliff Pennington, SS 9. Ian Kennedy SP
Well known for his tinkering with lineups, Gibson wrestled with a few spots in particular. Hill has had success in the No. 2 spot in the batting order, but Gibson felt it was best to bump him into more of a run-producing spot with Prado now in the fold.
“I’ve been thinking about it for a while,” Gibson said. “I was ready to make up my mind really this morning. Prado was good at two for a long time. He’s been good there. Hilly, I think, he drives the ball a lot, into gaps.”
So will Hill be the anchor in the No. 3 spot that Justin Upton was in past seasons? Maybe, but with Gibson, the lineup is far from set in stone, and that goes more so for early this season with expected leadoff man and center fielder Adam Eaton and right fielder Cody Ross opening the year on the disabled list. Ross is expected back within about the first week, whereas Eaton will miss approximately six weeks with a slight tear in his left ulnar collateral ligament.
“I’m not going to say this is the way the lineup is going to be every day,” Gibson said. “When we get different people who show up or get healthy, things could change, but I think when you get into the meat of the season then you’d like to have some guys that pretty much know where they’re hitting, yes.
“I want to give (Hill) an opportunity to drive people in.”
Gibson said he also examined a number of options for splitting his left-handed hitters and debated how high to bat Goldschmidt. Daily lineups, Gibson said, will also often reflect the opposing pitcher the D-backs are seeing.
The D-backs finalized their Opening Day roster after Saturday’s exhibition against the Reds at Chase Field, optioning Randall Delgado to Triple-A Reno and confirming outfielder Alfredo Marte will be with the club.
Delgado’s departure means left-hander Patrick Corbin has won the fifth rotation spot as expected following a spring that saw him go 3-0 with a 2.81 ERA and 26 strikeouts over 25 2/3 innings. He is slated to start Saturday against the Brewers but could end up starting Friday instead.
“I thought he was really good (this spring),” Gibson said after announcing the decision. “He was very confident coming in. … He just knew if he was himself, worked on becoming a better pitcher himself, he felt confident he would win the job.”
The D-backs acquired Delgado, 23, in the offseason from the Braves in the Justin Upton trade. This spring, he threw 19 1/3 innings, posting a 6.63 ERA yet still showing strong flashes of his potential. He will start for Reno in Colorado Springs on Thursday.
General manager Kevin Towers said Friday night that Marte, 24, was likely to break camp with the team but wanted to first check the waiver wires Saturday before telling Marte he would make the team. Marte, who has not played in the majors yet, will be the team’s fourth outfielder in light of the Ross and Eaton injuries.
“For me, it’s been a dream since I was a little kid (to play in the majors), so it feels incredible,” Marte said through a translator. “I was a little nervous, but over the last couple days, my confidence has gone up.”
Marte was sent out from big league camp March 13 but returned after Eaton’s injury to compete with Tony Campana for a roster spot. He finished the spring hitting just .170 but impressed with his bat recently, hitting home runs in back-to-backs games earlier this week.
“I thought he grew a lot,” Gibson said. “I saw him make some adjustments, grew as an outfielder as well. … He’s got a good attitude. He’s eager to try new things out, wants to get better. We like the way he swings the bat, for sure.”
Questions about Wade Miley’s status were also answered Saturday, as Miley threw 94 pitches over six innings, displaying his readiness to start the season normally after experiencing “dead arm” earlier this spring. Miley did give up four runs on nine hits and two walks while striking out three, but Gibson was pleased with how Miley looked physically.
“He said he felt strong at the end,” Gibson said. “Overall, pretty good. His arm feels fine. It’s not like he got gassed out there. He made some mistakes and Cincinnati jumped on them, but I feel confident about the way he’s throwing the ball.”
Miley is scheduled to start Friday in the series opener against the Brewers in Milwaukee. Given Saturday’s moves, here’s how the roster fills out for Opening Day:
Pitchers: Ian Kennedy, Trevor Cahill, Brandon McCarthy, Wade Miley, Patrick Corbin, Josh Collmenter, Brad Ziegler, Tony Sipp, Matt Reynolds, Heath Bell, David Hernandez, J.J. Putz.
Catchers: Miguel Montero, Wil Nieves.
Infielders: Paul Goldschmidt, Aaron Hill, Cliff Pennington, Martin Prado, Eric Hinske, Eric Chavez, Josh Wilson.
Outfielders: Gerardo Parra, Jason Kubel, A.J. Pollock, Alfredo Marte.