Grichuk, Pederson offer D-backs crucial OF depth

February 25th, 2024

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- The outfield that manager Torey Lovullo ran out for Saturday’s 6-2 win against the Rockies at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick is the one that fans are most likely to see on Opening Day.

There was NL Rookie of the Year Corbin Carroll in right, Alek Thomas in center and Lourdes Gurriel Jr. in left.

But the D-backs have more depth to their roster than they have had in years and Lovullo showed last year that when given multiple options at a position, he likes to play matchups and give his regulars rest.

So while the Opening Day starters seem pretty set, it’s worth taking a look at who else is in the mix to make the roster and how they could be utilized:

Randal Grichuk
The D-backs signed the veteran Grichuk to a contract just after camp opened to give them a right-handed option along with Gurriel.

Grichuk could see a lot of his at-bats as the right-handed platoon at the designated hitter spot with another free agent, Joc Pederson, but he should also see some time in the outfield.

Grichuk is coming off surgery to remove bone spurs in his right ankle last month so he will not see game action immediately this spring, though the D-backs are hopeful he will be ready for Opening Day. Once he gets his legs fully healthy, Grichuk should be able to play all three outfield positions if needed.

Joc Pederson
Pederson was signed primarily to be the DH against right-handed pitching, but he expressed to the team the desire to get a look both in the outfield and against lefties.

With that in mind, Lovullo will get him some time in the outfield this spring -- he started in left in the Cactus League opener Friday -- and he will continue to work on his fielding with well-respected outfield coach Dave McKay.

“Dave McKay is the best outfield coach I've ever seen,” Lovullo said. “He will coach up anybody to the next level. And Joc has committed to that. He said he wants to come in here and get some of those fundamentals back that have maybe been elusive to him, and they're working very hard every single day. But yeah, we want to have him in the outfield. I just don't want to have guys just as DH’s. I want them to be versatile enough that if I need to, I can put them in in the field as well.”

Jake McCarthy/Pavin Smith
Both players have had success at times in the big leagues and also times of struggle. McCarthy brings the added dimension of speed with the ability to create havoc on the basepaths.

Both of them have Minor League options remaining, and whether they make the team could come down to roster composition.

“Some of it's undefined because we don't know how many outfielders we're going to take or how many infielders we're going to take,” Lovullo said. “We pretty much know we're going to take two catchers, but beyond that we have some wiggle room with some of the decisions that we're making.”

Others to keep an eye on this spring
Jorge Barrosa is a switch-hitter that the D-backs like a lot and could see some big league time this year and, while he is likely to start the year in the Minors, A.J. Vukovich will also get some time this spring.

The team recently signed veterans Kyle Garlick and Albert Almora Jr. and invited the pair to big league camp. They add depth to the roster and, regardless of what the Opening Day collection of outfielders looks like, the D-backs should have plenty of flexibility and depth.