SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- D-backs outfield instructor Dave McKay has worked with more than his fair share of infielders converting to the outfield during his 35-year Major League coaching career.
Ask McKay about his work this week with Ketel Marte, whom the D-backs are transitioning from second base/shortstop to center field, and his enthusiasm for the project is obvious.
“He looks like he’s going to be fun to work with,” McKay said. “I get real excited about this guy because there’s a lot to work with. He’s got good speed, he’s smart, he listens. We need some time to where he gets real comfortable. No one could just jump into something like that and feel real comfortable.”
And that’s the first lesson McKay wanted to make sure he got across to Marte -- don’t try to do too much too soon.
“It’s been explained to him that it takes steps to have you ready,” McKay said. “He’s listening and understands.”
For right now, McKay suggested to Marte that he play a step or two deeper because for most players it’s easier to come in on a ball than to go back on one.
That too could change, however, and McKay will watch how Marte moves while taking fly balls. Does he seem to move back better than in? If so, then he can play a little more shallow.
“There’s some work he needs to do to develop, but as far as the tools, he runs smooth, he breaks back nicely,” McKay said. “It’s just little things that would make it a little easier, and that’s the things that we’re working on.”
The biggest challenge will be reading the ball off the bat, so McKay has suggested to Marte that he station himself in center field during batting practice and track balls.
Marte doesn’t have to actually chase down every ball, but McKay wants him to at least take a couple of steps towards it.
“When I see you doing that, that tells me you’re serious about wanting to be a good outfielder,” McKay said.
Here comes the rain
Heavy rain is forecast for the Valley on Thursday so the D-backs made sure that all of their pitchers threw live batting practice either Tuesday or Wednesday.
If they are unable to get on the field, as expected Thursday, they can move batting practice into the covered batting tunnels, and pitchers can play catch under cover.