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Lovullo experimenting with D-backs' lineup 

@SteveGilbertMLB
March 9, 2020

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- When the D-backs posted their lineup before Monday's 4-4 tie with the Royals, you couldn’t help but wonder if it wasn’t a preview of what is coming on Opening Day: Ketel Marte (2B), Starling Marte (CF), Eduardo Escobar (3B), David Peralta (LF), Christian Walker (1B), Kole Calhoun

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- When the D-backs posted their lineup before Monday's 4-4 tie with the Royals, you couldn’t help but wonder if it wasn’t a preview of what is coming on Opening Day:

Ketel Marte (2B), Starling Marte (CF), Eduardo Escobar (3B), David Peralta (LF), Christian Walker (1B), Kole Calhoun (RF), Jake Lamb (DH), Nick Ahmed (SS) and Carson Kelly (catcher).

Aside from having a designated hitter, which they won’t be allowed in their opener against the Braves on March 26, the expected starting eight were in there, and Madison Bumgarner was on the mound.

The batting order? Well, manager Torey Lovullo is still working on that.

“I’m playing with some [lineup] construction right now,” Lovullo said. “I don’t know where everybody is going to hit right now.”

Up until Monday, whenever Starling Marte and Ketel Marte were in the lineup together, Starling had been hitting leadoff, with Ketel second. Against Royals' lefty Mike Montgomery, Lovullo switched them, saying he’s toying with hitting Ketel Marte first against lefties and Starling Marte first against righties.

“I just think he can impact the game on the first pitch of the game,” Lovullo said of Ketel Marte. “I think he’s comfortable there against left-handed pitching. I’m just trying to find his comfort level to put him in the best situation. I don’t know how it’s going to wind up. I just want to see how it looks.”

The biggest challenge for Lovullo is figuring out what to do with his left-handed hitters, given the new rule that all relief pitchers have to face a minimum of three batters.

Does he go left-right-left-right throughout the lineup? Or does he stack a pair of righties behind a lefty?

“Maybe I’m over-evaluating and overthinking it, which I can do from time to time,” Lovullo said. “But I’m trying to get some strength inside of our lineup that’s going to walk into some really good matchups for us.”

Mixing it up
Left-hander Madison Bumgarner tossed 3 2/3 scoreless innings against the Royals on Monday. He allowed three hits and a walk while striking out four.

“I felt good,” Bumgarner said. “I kind of went about it in a little bit different way. I tried to really mix it up a lot today. We may have, but we really tried not to double-up on anything. Just keep moving the ball around, and force myself to make a completely different pitch on the next one to see where everything was at. I was pretty happy with it.”

Backfield games
Robbie Ray will pitch in an intra-squad backfield game Tuesday, along with closer Archie Bradley, Héctor Rondón and Kevin Ginkel.

Mike Leake, who is recovering from a left wrist injury, is also scheduled to throw in the game.

Thursday, right-hander Merrill Kelly will pitch in a backfield game, rather than pitch against the Brewers at Salt River Fields.

Up next
The D-backs travel to Goodyear on Tuesday to take on the Reds with Taylor Clarke on the mound. James Sherfy and Stefan Crichton are among those also expected to pitch.

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