PHOENIX -- Less than two weeks from now, D-backs pitchers and catchers will go through their first workout at Salt River Fields.
So does the pickup of Starling Marte now mean that Ketel Marte will no longer play center field?
-- Pat T., Tempe, Ariz.
While Starling Marte will primarily be the center fielder, I think you will still see Ketel Marte out there, though not nearly as often as last year. For example, against tough left-handers, it would not surprise me to see Ketel play center with Starling moving to one of the corners to give left-handed hitters David Peralta or Kole Calhoun a break.
From the current roster and free-agency acquisitions, how do you foresee the setup man and closer lineup on a nightly basis?
-- Elmer, Sydney, Australia
Archie Bradley will get the nod as the closer, unless something drastically changes during Spring Training. It’s a role he filled for much of the last few months of 2019; manager Torey Lovullo just never officially called him the closer.
Is there any indication that Robbie Ray will still get traded, or is it now improbable after the D-backs shored up their outfield by acquiring Starling Marte?
-- Aric, Tempe, Ariz.
I don’t see Ray getting moved at this point, though I always have to preface anything I say about this front office by saying you can never put anything past them. They seem content to go into the season with Ray and are not required to move him for budgetary reasons. GM Mike Hazen said that most of the heavy lifting on the roster was completed after the Marte trade so that’s another indication that Ray will be in the rotation come Opening Day.
Could you mention the rest of the rotation pitchers, alongside Madison Bumgarner and Ray?
-- Carlos, Scottsdale, Ariz.
With Ray not getting traded and the signing of Bumgarner, the D-backs have a lot of depth in their rotation. In addition to the two you mentioned, Luke Weaver and Mike Leake enter camp with spots in the rotation. The fifth spot will be a fierce competition. Zac Gallen would seem to be the frontrunner, but I wouldn’t count out Merrill Kelly, who had a sneaky good year in 2019. You also have Alex Young, Taylor Clarke, Jon Duplantier and Taylor Widener. One of more of those who don’t make the rotation could slide into the 'pen, with the rest opening the year at Triple-A Reno as insurance.
So I’ve been a D-backs fan all my life (I’m 25) but never have made it to an Opening Day, I’m leaving in April to go into the PeaceCorps, so this is my last chance for a few years. When do tickets go on sale for Opening Day?
-- Nathaniel H., Phoenix
Single-game tickets go on sale Feb. 24, but you can register for a pre-sale opportunity.