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Hale excited for new-look D-backs rotation

Arizona skipper envisions Pollock as leadoff hitter, Tomas in right field

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- D-backs manager Chip Hale was all smiles Wednesday as he talked about getting to write new pitchers Zack Greinke and Shelby Miller on his lineup card every fifth day during the coming season.

"Obviously Zack Greinke is a huge acquisition for us," Hale said. "Being able to acquire Shelby Miller is another key. With Zack, Shelby, Patrick Corbin coming back fully healthy this year and Rubby [De La Rosa] and Robbie [Ray], it's pretty exciting stuff, starting staff."

While Hale mentioned De La Rosa and Ray, the pair will need to earn their spots with Archie Bradley, Chase Anderson and Zack Godley among those in the competition.

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Not surprisingly, Hale said Greinke would get the ball Opening Day when the D-backs take on the Rockies on April 4 at Chase Field.

What Greinke brings on the field is one thing, but the D-backs also believe he will help their younger pitchers develop.

"I think he's not a real vocal leader, but he's a leader by example," Hale said. "He's a student of the game. And that's one thing he indicated to our pitching coach is that he feels like he can be that missing link, not necessarily being a coach, but a guy that's a player that's done it and can prod some of the younger guys and move them along to become better pitchers."

Video: Hale joins Intentional Talk to discuss offseason

Brad Ziegler will return as closer and Hale said no determination had been made yet about whether Daniel Hudson will be a starter or a reliever. The team will discuss the situation with Hudson, but Hale said he could envision Hudson as the team's primary eighth-inning guy and occasional closer when Ziegler needs a rest.

To acquire Miller, the D-backs gave up outfielder Ender Inciarte, who was one of their main leadoff hitters in 2015.

Unless the D-backs acquire another player this offseason, Hale said it looks like outfielder A.J. Pollock, who hit third toward the end of last season, will move to the leadoff spot.

Inciarte's departure also opens up an outfield spot, and Hale said right field belongs to Yasmany Tomas for now.

The infield -- outside of first baseman Paul Goldschmidt -- will feature intense competition, with Jake Lamb, Brandon Drury, Phil Gosselin, Chris Owings and Aaron Hill fighting for playing time.

"That's going to be a nice battle," Hale said. "Last spring, kind of the theme of our camp was competition. I think we still have a lot of competition between second base, third base and shortstop. And guys are going to earn it. Last year Brandon had a fantastic camp; as you remember, we got him out of camp fairly early because we knew he was going to start the year in Double-A. This year, it's wide open. If he has that camp, he's going to be starting somewhere on our team."

Based on his performance last season, Welington Castillo will go into camp as the starting catcher with Tuffy Gosewisch and Chris Herrmann battling for the backup role.

Steve Gilbert is a reporter for Follow him on Twitter @SteveGilbertMLB.
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