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Marte confident transition to CF will be smooth

Arizona Diamondbacks shortstop Ketel Marte (4) in the first inning during a baseball game against the Seattle Mariners, Friday, Aug. 24, 2018, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri) (Rick Scuteri/AP)
February 14, 2019

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Ketel Marte does not lack for confidence when it comes to switching from second base/shortstop to center field, which is where he's expected to see a lot of time this season.:: Spring Training coverage presented by Camping World ::"I feel that I can be good out there,"

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Ketel Marte does not lack for confidence when it comes to switching from second base/shortstop to center field, which is where he's expected to see a lot of time this season.
:: Spring Training coverage presented by Camping World ::
"I feel that I can be good out there," Marte said. "I know I'm going to be good. I've played center field before. I'm athletic with the talent to play anywhere. For sure. I can run. I just have to practice and prepare myself to be ready for the season."
Primarily a shortstop throughout his professional career, the D-backs shifted Marte to second base last year because they had Gold Glover Nick Ahmed at shortstop.
After losing center fielder A.J. Pollock to free agency and not being able to find a replacement on either the free-agent or trade markets, the D-backs decided to move Marte to center and signed Wilmer Flores to handle a lot of the work at second base.
That's not to say that Marte will only see action in center.
Instead, the team plans to move him around a bit, playing him at times at second and even shortstop with Jarrod Dyson and perhaps Sócrates Brito getting some starts in center.
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Both Dyson and Brito are left-handed hitters while Marte is a switch-hitter, so it's likely he would get the starts in center against southpaws.
"We feel like he's capable of going out there and taking on that challenge," D-backs manager Torey Lovullo said. "I know that we would be asking a lot of him, but we've done a lot of work and we've done a lot of preparation as far as conversation and just making sure that he understands the reason for us considering this. I feel like he's going to get a lot of looks in Spring Training and we're going to see how that plays out, and he's assured us that he's comfortable and ready for that challenge."
Still, Lovullo wants to take things slowly when it comes to integrating Marte into center, so look for Marte to get playing time in the infield initially this spring as he gets acclimated to playing again before they transition him to center.
"He told me that I can take a lot of ground balls at short," Marte said of Lovullo. "Sometimes, I'm going to start in center and I can finish at short. Then I'm going to start at short and I can finish at second or anywhere. He just told me to be prepared to play those three positions. I'm OK with that."
Marte has not played much center field as a pro. With the Mariners he saw action in two games out there for a total of 14 innings, and he spent nine games there in the Minor Leagues.
However, he's quick to point out that as a kid he played all over the diamond, including center and "if you play shortstop, you're going to be good at any position."
That's what the D-backs are counting on.

Steve Gilbert has covered the D-backs for MLB.com since 2001. Follow him on Twitter @SteveGilbertMLB.