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Owings learning another position this spring

Versatile utility man adding right field to repertoire
Special to MLB.com

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Chris Owings spent part of the 2016 season patrolling center field for the first time in his career. Now, he's working on learning how to play right field.

It's just another challenge for Owings, who has played 179 Major League games at shortstop, 137 at second base and only 49 in center.

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Chris Owings spent part of the 2016 season patrolling center field for the first time in his career. Now, he's working on learning how to play right field.

It's just another challenge for Owings, who has played 179 Major League games at shortstop, 137 at second base and only 49 in center.

And now, rather than playing up the middle, Owings could contribute from a corner. With his glove hand on the foul-line side, he will have to chase down balls in the gap across his body.

Video: ARI@COL: Owings makes a fantastic catch at the wall

To adjust, Owings consulted with teammate David Peralta, a left-handed fielder who played left field for most of 2015, before moving to right during an injury-plagued 2016. Peralta said right field is easier for him than left, but neither are simple.

"The hardest position to play in the outfield is either corner," Peralta said. "You have to react to where the ball's going to go because it's always sinking."

Peralta said he gave Owings three main pieces of outfield advice last year, not wanting to give Owings too much information and make him overthink:

1. Relax

"Just play the game," Peralta told Owings. "It's a different position than what you normally play, but you're an athletic guy. You know how to play this game. So, just go out there, have fun."

2. Read the hitter

"You have to see how they're swinging," Peralta said. "See if the guy at the plate is a pull hitter, is a guy who loves to hit to the other side of the field or if it's not a power hitter, it's just a guy [who hits] soft line drives. So you have to be careful with that."

3. Hit the cutoff man

"Our job as an outfielder is when we get a ground ball, a fly ball, anything, just hit the cutoff man," Peralta said. "Because it's our job. When we hit the cutoff man, our job's done. Then, the infielders are going to do the rest."

Manager Torey Lovullo said the team needs more help in right field than in center or left. A.J. Pollock is expected to return to an everyday role in center, after suffering a fracture in his elbow just three days before Opening Day last season and playing just 12 games in 2016.

Yasmany Tomas has been spending time in left field this spring. Jeremy Hazelbaker is listed as a left fielder as well. And Brandon Drury played 62 games there last year, as opposed to 32 In right.

Peralta has spent his time in right field this spring.

"We know [Owings is] a very good athlete, and that's why we asked him to do this," Lovullo said. "We're comfortable knowing that he will make the adjustment as quickly as possible."

Video: ARI@CWS: Owings drives in Lamb with single in the 2nd

Owings is working to get accustomed to the position before Opening Day. He often patrols right field during batting practice, trying to track down the balls as they're hit .

Lovullo said Owings has not worked on many technical aspects of playing right, focusing for now on developing footwork while shagging fly balls.

Owings hadn't even taken a rep in the outfield until last season.

"Last year was very unique because I was an infielder all of Spring Training, until the last two days of camp," Owings said. "That next day, I was out there playing center field. Coming into this season, it's a lot different."

Logan Newman is a senior majoring in journalism at Arizona State University. This story is part of a Cactus League partnership between MLB.com and ASU's Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication.

Arizona Diamondbacks, Chris Owings