PHOENIX -- Ketel Marte has been a sparkplug for the D-backs since being called up in late June, providing versatility in the infield and a bit of pop from the bottom of the lineup.With David Peralta out of the lineup on paternity leave, Marte batted leadoff for the first time
PHOENIX -- Ketel Marte has been a sparkplug for the D-backs since being called up in late June, providing versatility in the infield and a bit of pop from the bottom of the lineup.
With David Peralta out of the lineup on paternity leave, Marte batted leadoff for the first time in Tuesday's 9-4 loss to the Astros, going 2-for-5 with a run. He's enjoyed a strong August, batting .361 with three doubles this month.
"In David's absence, I felt like we wanted a leadoff hitter that was going to swing at some pitches and put good swings on the ball," manager Torey Lovullo said. "And he deserves this. He stays with his game plan as good as anybody I've seen, and he's been a catalyst for us down at the bottom of the lineup. It's not something we're going to stay with when David comes back, [but] I just think in his absence, Marte was the guy who made the most sense to me."
Marte, who is hitting .286 since joining the club on June 28, has delivered several timely late-game hits and some standout defensive plays. In his second Major League start on July 2, he hit a walk-off single against the Rockies, with whom the D-backs are locked in a heated National League Wild Card race.
With plenty of attrition on the middle-infield spots this season, Marte's presence has become even more important. With Nick Ahmed and Chris Owings each on the 60-day disabled list, Marte has become Arizona's everyday shortstop.
"He has given us a huge boost since Nick has been out," Lovullo said. "I think we're so fortunate to have that kind of depth in the organization. The front office ends up trading for a couple of guys who are really important for this puzzle, for this year."
The 23-year-old Marte came to the D-backs in a trade with the Mariners in November 2016. Arizona received Taijuan Walker and Marte for its 2016 starting shortstop, Jean Segura, as well as Mitch Haniger and Zac Curtis. Marte started 116 games at shortstop for the Mariners in 2016, and he has only added to the D-backs' strong middle-infield depth.
"I think what young players do -- and he's played a full year at the big league level -- but what young players do when they come up from the Minor Leagues is they kind of tread water and they're afraid to make mistakes," Lovullo said. "I think what we're seeing with Ketel is he's not afraid to make a mistake. A true big leaguer goes out without a fear of making a mistake, and if he does, he understands why it happens, but he's not afraid of making one. He's played the game full speed since he's been here."
Jarrid Denney is a reporter for MLB.com based in Phoenix.