Miranda Could Make an Impact

Miranda Could Make an Impact

Juan Miranda is a rookie who turns 28 years old in April, but unlike most 28-year old rookies, Miranda has a chance to make an impact at the big league level. As the favorite to win the starting first base job for the Arizona Diamondbacks, the Cuban defector may see his patience pay off in 2011.

First baseman Juan Miranda finally might get the opportunity that eluded him in New York.

Stuck behind perennial Yankees All-Star Mark Teixeira no longer, Miranda has a clear field ahead of him as he attempts to win the first base job with the Diamondbacks this season after their courtship of Scottsdale native and resident Paul Konekro (their offer was three years, $30 million) was rebuffed at the winter meetings.

"Miranda needs an opportunity. I think if he gets the opportunity, he can do some good things," said D-backs general manager Kevin Towers, who got to know Miranda while serving as a special assistant to Yankees general manager Brian Cashman last season following 13 years of building contenders as San Diego's general manager.

A left-handed hitter, Miranda showed some pop while playing the last three seasons at Class AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, hitting .287 with a combined 65 doubles and 46 home runs. He had 15 of each in 80 games last season, when he also appeared in 33 games at first base and DH with the Yankees. He drew comparisons to gap hitter Lyle Overbay at the winter meetings.

Miranda, a 27-year-old Cuban emigre who signed with the Yankees in December 2006, had two doubles, a triple and three homers in 64 at-bats with the Yankees last season. He was acquired early this offseason for minor league right-hander Scottie Allen, an 11th-round pick in the 2009 draft.

The D-backs' opening at first was created when Adam LaRoche left via free agency. While Miranda is a candidate, Brandon Allen, another left-handed hitter, could make a run at starting spot. Free agent signee Xavier Nady can play there, too.

Allen, 24, has had 37 homers and 118 RBI in 145 games at Class AAA Reno since being acquired in a trade in the summer of 2009. He has had five homers and 20 RBI in 149 at-bats in parts of two seasons at the major league level, although his 60 strikeouts are alarming. He had 20 strikeouts in 45 at-bats last September.

SNAKE BYTES

--Former NL Cy Young winner Doug Drabek will be the pitching coach at Class A Visalia of the California League, his first full-season assignment with the D-backs after serving as the pitching coach in his 2010 debut at Class A Yakima of the short-season Northwest League. Drabek won 155 games during a 13-year major league career that included the 1990 NL Cy Young Award while with Pittsburgh, when he went22-6 with a 2.76 ERA.

--Former major leaguer Jason Hardtke was promoted to manage Class A Visalia after serving as the hitting coach at short-season Missoula of the rookie Pioneer League the previous two seasons. Andy Abad, another former major leaguer, will be the hitting coach at Visalia after serving in the same capacity at Yakima the previous two seasons.

--Successful veteran Mark Haley will return to manage Class A South Bend of the Midwest League after leading the Silver Hawks into the playoffs in five of his six seasons there. Pitching coach Wellington Cepeda will return for his second consecutive season at South Bend, his fifth total and eighth in the organization, while Bobby Smith will make his coaching debut as the Silver Hawks' pitching coach.

DIAMOND STAT: 4 -- Players remaining from the D-backs' 2007 NL West championship team after free agent RHP Brandon Webb signed with Texas.

QUOTABLE: "He's very detailed, he's very organized, he's very, very keen. I think it's just important to have guys like Alan Trammell to assist and you help you make the right decisions." -- Manager Kirk Gibson on his old teammate and new bench coach, Alan Trammell.


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