PHOENIX -- Throughout the winter, while watching general manager Dave Stewart make the blockbuster acquisitions of Zack Greinke and Shelby Miller, D-backs manager Chip Hale has been scribbling down various lineup combinations, bullpen options and rotation alignments.When pitchers and catchers work out for the first time Thursday, Hale will begin
PHOENIX -- Throughout the winter, while watching general manager Dave Stewart make the blockbuster acquisitions of Zack Greinke and Shelby Miller, D-backs manager Chip Hale has been scribbling down various lineup combinations, bullpen options and rotation alignments.
When pitchers and catchers work out for the first time Thursday, Hale will begin the six-week process of evaluations that will lead to an Opening Day roster.
There will be plenty of battles for spots in the starting lineup, while there are fewer openings when it comes to the rotation and bullpen.
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At least heading into Spring Training, Hale has first baseman Paul Goldschmidt, center fielder A.J. Pollock, left fielder David Peralta and catcher Welington Castillo penciled in, though Peralta could wind up moving over to right. In addition, you can expect Yasmany Tomas to have the leg up to start in left or right.
"When we left at the end of last year I didn't think we'd have as many questions with starting positions as we do," Hale said. "There's a lot of competition between those three infield positions at second, short and third, and there are a lot of guys in the mix."
The D-backs would like to see Jake Lamb step up and win the third-base job, but he will be pushed by Phil Gosselin and Brandon Drury.
Up the middle Chris Owings, Jean Segura and Nick Ahmed are the primary challengers for playing time. Drury and Gosselin, though, figure into the mix at second.
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"I would think Segura, Ahmed and Owings are all legitimate shortstop possibilities, and we owe it to them and to ourselves to look at all of them in different combinations," Hale said. "Whether it's Segura at short or second, I think he can do both, and has done both, in his career."
There will be intense battles for the fourth, and possibly fifth, outfield spots -- with Socrates Brito in the lead -- and backup catcher, with Tuffy Gosewisch and Chris Herrmann candidates there.
The front three of the rotation is locked in with Greinke, Miller and Patrick Corbin, and Hale said that while Rubby De La Rosa and Robbie Ray have an advantage after the way they pitched last year, the final two spots are not sure things.
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Hale has been pleased with what he's seen from top prospect Archie Bradley, who has been working hard this offseason with new pitching coach Mike Butcher and Zack Godley, and according to Hale, has looked good in bullpen sessions.
"So I think you're talking about seven, eight guys maybe vying for those five spots."
Brad Ziegler will close with Tyler Clippard, Daniel Hudson and Andrew Chafin in setup roles. Josh Collmenter and Randall Delgado also figure to be in there, leaving likely one spot, or two if the team elects to carry 13 pitchers.
Pitchers and catchers report
First pitchers and catchers workout
Full squad reports
First full-squad workout
First Spring Training game
Away vs. Rockies, March 2, 1:10 p.m. MST
Home vs. Rockies, April 4, 6:40 p.m. MST
Steve Gilbert is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @SteveGilbertMLB.