Changes in routine paying off so far for Rojas

March 6th, 2021

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- got to the point where he'd had enough.

After a poor Spring Training in 2020 followed up by a .180 average during the 60-game regular season, the D-backs infielder/outfielder knew something had to change.

Well, more than one thing.

"I changed a lot of things," Rojas said. "I changed my diet. I changed my sleep habits. I changed how hard I was lifting. I also started swinging a lot earlier. I started working with [D-backs hitting coaches] probably at the beginning of January -- a little bit in December but really picked it up in January. So instead of coming in for Spring Training like [it] used to happen, making those adjustments while playing games, now I can actually work on at-bats and fine-tune those things instead of making big tweaks while playing other competition."

Rojas' improved sleep has given him more energy and allowed him to wake up earlier in the morning.

And after receiving grief in the past for his diet from shortstop Nick Ahmed, Rojas has begun to follow Ahmed's dietary program.

It's early in camp, but the results so far have been encouraging.

Rojas has looked good defensively at shortstop and he's been mashing at the plate. On Thursday against the Angels, he hit his first homer of the spring. He followed that up with a two-homer game Friday night against the Reds.

This would be a good time for Rojas to put together an impressive spring, because it could set him up nicely for the season.

The D-backs have an opening at second base when Ketel Marte is playing center. There's opportunity to get at-bats as Ahmed's backup, and there's also a right-field job that will be open with Kole Calhoun expected to start the year on the injured list.

"I think that it’s my job to compete and do the best I can," Rojas said. "Obviously there’s openings on the field, depending on where Ketel has to go and anything like that. So it’s my job to show that I can play and crack the lineup. It basically falls on my shoulders to show that I can compete against anybody we face."

Rojas' versatility on defense helps his chances of making the team. He can play second, third and shortstop, as well as both corners in the outfield.

Rojas' chief competition is Josh VanMeter, who can play the same positions but is not as good at short as Rojas. Both VanMeter and Rojas are left-handed hitters, so it's possible that the team would only carry one of them in a backup role.

"Once I got here in January and the coaches started arriving, me and [infield coach Tony Perezchica] have been going at it on the infield," Rojas said. "Second base and shortstop. Really trying to fine-tune those skills. Mostly at shortstop, because the thought behind that is trying to get my footwork and everything going at the hardest position on the infield, so that when I do move, if I do have to move to second or third or anywhere else on the infield, that I’ve mastered the hardest position. And it only gets a little easier moving to second and moving to third."

Part of the return for Zack Greinke at the Trade Deadline in 2019, Rojas played left, right and second base after being called up in August of that year. Last season, he added shortstop to the list, and he's played third in the Minors as well.