PHOENIX -- The D-backs entered the regular season with high expectations, but the first month of 2016 provided challenges few could have anticipated.After Friday night's 5-2 loss to Colorado, Arizona still managed to finish April with a 12-14 record in series against the Rockies (twice), Cubs, Dodgers, Padres, Giants, Pirates
PHOENIX -- The D-backs entered the regular season with high expectations, but the first month of 2016 provided challenges few could have anticipated.
After Friday night's 5-2 loss to Colorado, Arizona still managed to finish April with a 12-14 record in series against the Rockies (twice), Cubs, Dodgers, Padres, Giants, Pirates and Cardinals to remain in the mix in the National League West, a division where no team boasts a winning record.
Neither the record nor the team's play is good enough for D-backs manager Chip Hale.
"People talked a lot about expectations to start the year and nobody had higher expectations than the guys in the clubhouse or the coaching staff, myself, the front office and ownership," Hale said. "So, we are disappointed with what's happened so far, but we know it's a long year and we have a sense of urgency and we'll play better. But that's got to happen on the field."
A lot has happened so far.
The turbulent month began on April 2 when All-Star center fielder A.J. Pollock exited the final exhibition game of spring against the Royals with what turned out to be a broken elbow. It's uncertain if Pollock will return again this season, and the D-backs are playing as if he is not. Chris Owings, who had not played center field since he was a teenager, was inserted into the position and is now considered the team's everyday center fielder.
The starting pitching, especially Zack Greinke and Shelby Miller, who has struggled with his command and mechanics for most of the month, has not lived up to expectations. Patrick Corbin and Robbie Ray have also struggled with consistency. Not surprisingly, the D-backs' bullpen has thrown the most innings in baseball and the club has been busy shuffling in Minor League relievers to add depth.
"It hasn't been perfect, but not terrible," Greinke said of the team's first month. "Ideally, it would be a little better. Starters, pitching for the most part, has not done what it's supposed to do. To be close to .500 with how bad we pitched is something we should take. It would be nice to be doing better."
Shortstop Nick Ahmed could be the best-kept secret in baseball because of his stellar defense, but he'll have to hit more in May. The slick fielder struggled at the plate for the second half of the month and finished with a .183 batting average and 3-for-26 skid during the current homestand. Goldschmidt finished the month hitting .247 with six home runs and 16 RBIs, a decent month for anybody not named Paul Goldschmidt.
The month did have its highlights.
Infielder Jean Segura has proved to be a spark at the top of the lineup and infielder Brandon Drury is riding a hot streak at the plate. David Peralta drove the bus offensively and Yasmany Tomas showed glimpses of the player the club hopes he can be on a consistent basis. Third baseman Jake Lamb is batting .300 with a .950 OPS in his last 18 games.
There is still work to do.
"Our record is what it is and that's who we are," Hale said. "We are not playing good enough baseball to be over. 500 and that's what we planned on being."
Jesse Sanchez is a national reporter for MLB.com based in Phoenix. Follow him on Twitter @JesseSanchezMLB and Facebook.