There was a time during spring training when manager Chip Hale and third base coach Matt Williams looked at one another in perplexity. The dilemma was profound and growing, and demanded a resolution.
“Anywhere,” was Williams response to Hale’s predicament. The issue before Hale and Williams was where to play Brandon Drury, who was one of the last cuts at the end of spring training last year. Now, Drury continued to gain attention with his bat this spring and his baseball acumen. Somewhat like a Minister Without Portfolio, Drury was a man without an established position, but Hale and Williams knew Drury’s bat was vital to the Diamondbacks’ fortunes.
The position made little difference, because the 23-year-old native of Grants Pass, Ore. simply hit his way on the Diamondbacks 25-man roster. In spring training this year, Drury pounded the ball at .389 clip, second on the club in hits and second in home runs. When the season began, Drury was regulated to the bench. From commencement of the season, Hale said he wanted to find playing time, and have Drury come to the plate with regularity. In a word, done.
Coming into Friday’s game with the Rockies at home, Drury was hitting .311 on the season, but .385 in his last 10 games. In National League rookie rankings, he is second in doubles, tied for third in extra base hits, tied for fifth in hits and tied for sixth in RBIs.
For his part, Drury seems low-key, and dedicated to the daily regiment and structure of playing every day in the major leagues. Buying into the team concept of versatility and resourcefulness, Drury says he’s ready whenever Hale calls his name
“Where I play doesn’t matter,” he said. “At the end of the day, it’s baseball, and you’re in the box. The game comes down hitting, and I’m trying to get better every day.”
Because of lethal bat these days, Hale says he needs to find a place for Drury every day in the lineup. On Thursday night against the Cardinals, Drury was left field and Friday night at home against the Rockies, he was hitting seventh and playing second base. Because Nick Ahmed (.190 batting average) is struggling at the plate, putting Drury at second and Jean Segura back at his normal shortstop position seemed logical. Then again, Hale says he’s burdened by making a good decision for where to place Drury and place his lethal stick.
“Right now, (Drury) has a hot rod, and he’s forcing his way into the lineup,” the manager said. “He had a good idea how his body plays to the different positions, and he’s adjusting well.”
A third baseman by trade, the Diamondbacks have tried Drury at second, in the outfield and his natural slot at third. By his admission, Drury looks at himself as an everyday man, and reflects President Theodore Roosevelt’s famous line, “speak softly and carry a big stick.”
Right-hander Josh Collmenter is ready for the next step in his rehab program. On the disabled list since April 2 with inflammation of the right shoulder, Collmenter is back on the mound. After pitching Thursday in an extended spring training game against the Giants, the native of Homer, Mich. tossed two innings, allowed four hits, three runs, faced nine batters and threw 28 pitches.
Next for Collmenter is pitching in an Advanced A game for Visalia this coming Monday. At that point, the Diamondbacks would like to extend Collmenter, and he is expected to throw three innings. It’s likely Collmenter will have two starts at Visalia, and then the organization will take an assessment of his health and future.
A MINOR TRANSACTION
On Friday, the Diamondbacks acquired minor league left-hander Edwin Escobar from the Boston Red Sox on waivers. To make room on the 40-man roster, righty Matt Buschmann was designated for assignment.
“When we were talking with the Red Sox at the time we acquired Rubby De La Rosa from them, we also asked about Escobar,” said manager Chip Hale before Friday night’s game at home against the Rockies. “Now, we have a chance to see what he can do.”
At AAA Pawtucket this season, Escobar, at 24-years-old, appeared in three games without giving up on runs. In 2014, Escobar entered the season ranked as Giants’ number two prospect by Baseball America, and selected to play for the World in 2014 Futures Game at Target Field. He was dealt from the Giants to Boston on July 26, 2014 in exchange for pitcher Jake Peavy. Esoobar will report to AAA Reno.