Lamb appears to have edge on Tomas at third base for D-backs
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Once the Yasmany Tomas domino is played, the Diamondbacks’ roster seemingly will fall into place. There is no rush. The D-backs have a whole weekend to make the call.
Jake Lamb has outplayed Tomas at third base this spring and because of that appears to be the leading candidate to win the job, although manager Chip Hale make it clear that he was not ready to announce a decision.
Tomas’ development will be major factor. Is he best served to open the season in the minors while continuing to develop at third base, a foreign position? Is the outfield his most likely landing spot? Would playing a reserve role in the majors be best in the long run?
"That’s what we are trying to figure out right now," Hale said. "Is it better for him to go out or is it better for him to stay here? Maybe we do hold onto him and see if we can get him enough at-bats if he is not the everyday third baseman, which is still not decided. If he isn’t, in maybe a month, if he has 60-70 at-bats, we’re doing a good job.
"We have to watch it. There probably is a magic number that I need to look at, and look at the guys that we are facing in our division, especially, and what the matchups would be. If a guy can help you win a game, he deserves to be on the roster."
The D-backs play 25 of their first 30 games against the NL West, which is right-handed heavy in starting pitching. San Diego has five right-handers in its rotation. San Francisco’s only lefty is Opening Day starter Madison Bumgarner, who the D-backs are likely to face twice in the first two weeks. With Jorge De La Rosa expected to miss the first few weeks, Colorado will have four righties in its rotation. The Dodgers have three lefties, but Hyun-Jin Ryu is not expected to be ready for the start of the regular season.
Tomas, who is hitting .273 with two home runs and 12 RBI, has been used primarily a third this spring, but he also has played a little bit at first base and in right field. He had an RBI single in four at-bats Thursday, when he started at third base and played three innings in right field.
Hale said Tomas is likely to play the outfield in his final two spring training games against the Cubs on Friday and Saturday and Chase Field, and that he could start in left field Saturday. If Tomas were to be the starting third baseman, it would seem that D-backs would want him to spend all his time there.
"Jake Lamb has outplayed him defensively, which we expected," Hale said. "It’s a tough decision, and there are other ways for Yasmany to make the team maybe not as the starting third baseman, but we’ll see."
"It comes down to whether I feel like I can get him enough at-bats here. So if we don’t feel like we can get him enough at-bats here, then he would have to go to the minor leagues and get those at-bats. What we tell guys when they leave him, hit your way back to the big leagues."
It might be hard to find at-bats for Tomas if he is not the regular third baseman. Paul Goldschmidt will not need/want/get much time off at first base, and the outfield is five deep already. At the same time, Tomas was the only hitter able to do much against Cincinnati All-Star right-hander Johnny Cueto on Wednesday, hitting a three-run double in a 3-0 victory.
"So he has the ability to turn around the best pitchers in the league," Hale said. "That makes you think. You have at-bats like that, it raises our eyebrows a little bit. Do I think he’s a top of the line third baseman? Probably not. Now you have to weigh the offense versus the defense, and what do you want."