Lovullo focused on 'understudies' in camp

Shortstop depth a priority with Ahmed dealing with forearm issue

February 26th, 2023

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Since watching injuries decimate his roster and challenge his organization’s depth during a 110-loss season in 2021, D-backs manager Torey Lovullo has made it a point to spend even more time evaluating his backups during Spring Training.

For the next week or so, you can bet he’s going to be checking out what his shortstop depth looks like with out for at least the next five days with tightness/inflammation in his left forearm.

“I’m hypersensitive to depth inside of the organization,” Lovullo said. “Not just depth where I write a name in a lineup, but depth as to where guys can go out and perform at a high level. So my focus is on the understudies, my focus is on quality backups, all the time.”

The D-backs began Cactus League competition with a split-squad day Saturday, losing 12-7 to the A's and 12-5 to the Rockies.

There’s no reason to believe at this point that Ahmed will miss an extended period of time, but he was given a cortisone shot to reduce the inflammation.

"I had it looked at by our doctor and he wasn’t thinking it was anything serious long-term, but just wanted me to slow down with the inflammation that was in there,” Ahmed said.

Ahmed has missed time in each of the last three seasons since he jammed his right shoulder while diving for a ball during Summer Camp in 2020. It limited him to just 17 games last year before he had surgery on the shoulder.

got most of the starts at short for the D-backs in Ahmed’s absence and he and Ahmed are expected to battle it out this spring for playing time.

Should something change and Ahmed has to miss significant time, the D-backs have a pair of shortstops on the 40-man roster in and .

Castillo was acquired in the offseason from the Pirates after he was designated for assignment. He appeared in 96 games for Pittsburgh. Alexander, who played at Double-A Amarillo before appearing in seven games for Triple-A Reno last year, might need some more seasoning.

Non-roster invite is another option. He appeared in 28 games for the D-backs last year.

Competition underway

One of the biggest battles this spring is for the final spot in the rotation behind Zac Gallen, Merrill Kelly, Madison Bumgarner and Zach Davies.

A pair of the main contenders, right-handers Drey Jameson and Ryne Nelson, each started Saturday in split-squad contests with Nelson facing the Rockies and Jameson pitching against the A’s.

Jameson allowed a hit and a walk in two scoreless innings while Nelson allowed four runs on four hits while walking two in one-plus innings.

“I think the fastball felt good, fastball command felt good,” Nelson said. “Threw some of my offspeed pitches that I really liked. I think there's still consistency with that that could be better."


• Veteran third baseman Evan Longoria was back in camp Saturday after missing a few days due to strep throat.

• Outfielder Kyle Lewis did not play in either game because Lovullo said that he was experiencing some leg fatigue, but should be in a game in the near future.

Up next

The D-backs play the Padres on Sunday afternoon in Peoria with Tommy Henry getting the start. Henry is also part of the competition for the fifth spot in the rotation.