Notes: Escobar's new diet; Clarke competing

February 24th, 2021

It’s been quite an offseason for veteran third baseman .

He added a balanced diet, lost around 20 pounds and gained a new outlook on life. Escobar, who turned 32 in January and is in the final year of his three-year deal, is hoping to return to the form that made him one of the D-backs’ most productive hitters.

“Last year, I was around 210 or 214 [pounds]. Right now, I’m at 193, 194,” he said. “I worked really, really hard this offseason. I work hard every year, but I did something different with my diet. I had never changed my diet and that’s helped me a lot. I have more energy, I’m sleeping better, and I’m feeling really, really good.”

Last season, Escobar hit .212 with four home runs and 20 RBIs with a .605 OPS in 54 games. He also had eight errors in 46 starts at third base, which was a stark contrast from 2019 when he had seven errors in 144 appearances at third.

“I’m not saying I played really bad last year or whatever,” he said. “That was last year. Last year is gone. This year, with the way I’m feeling, is unbelievable. This was the first time I’ve done this in my life with my diet.”

It’s worth noting that the veteran didn’t make an error in three games at second base in 2020, and he was without a miscue in 33 games at the position in ’19. He could see more playing at second base in 2021, with recent signee also slated to play third base.

“I don’t know about the role for Asdrúbal, but I’m so happy the Diamondbacks signed him,” Escobar said. “I’ve known him for a long time. He’s a Venezuelan. He can play all over the field. He’s a veteran player. When you have young people on the team, he can help a lot, especially being a guy who won a championship with the Nationals. I think he’s a very important addition.”

The D-backs also have Ketel Marte, Josh Rojas and Josh VanMeter for those positions, along with Wyatt Mathisen and Andy Young as additional depth.

“I know last year was a very trying year for him personally, and trying for all of us too,” D-backs manager Torey Lovullo said. “I know that he's in a good spot. I see him smiling again.”

Clarke's role TBD
The competition for a spot in the bullpen is wide open, and sees an opportunity to win a job.

For now, he’s preparing as starter, but his role is to be determined. What’s certain is the D-backs’ bullpen needs to make strides in 2021. Last season, it posted a 4.60 ERA (19th in MLB), a .250 opponents’ batting average (23rd in MLB) and .786 opponents’ OPS (25th in MLB).

Clarke pitched in 43 1/3 innings across 12 games, including five starts, and allowed 35 hits while walking 21 batters in 2020. He struck out 40 and finished with a 3-0 record and a 4.36 ERA.

“It was definitely a step forward for me, and comfortability was the biggest thing,” Clarke said. “The biggest thing to improve on is consistency and limiting those mistakes. Making that one big mistake can make a pretty good outing into a not so good one.”

In addition to Clarke, the pitchers vying for a spot in the bullpen includes Riley Smith, Jon Duplantier, Travis Bergen, Jeremy Beasley, Ryan Buchter and J.B. Bukauskas. For now, projected members of the bullpen include Joakim Soria, Stefan Crichton, Taylor Widener, Yoan López, Kevin Ginkel, Alex Young, Chris Devenski and Keury Mella.

And according to’s Steve Gilbert, the D-backs reached an agreement with veteran reliever Tyler Clippard on a Major League deal.

Clarke could make the club as a long reliever.

“That's how it was last year,” he said. “I don't know if that's going to be the same kind of role this year. It depends on how it all shakes out.”