Bonifacio Adds Versatility

Bonifacio Adds Versatility

Speed prospect Emilio Bonifacio is getting some work as an outfielder to make him a more viable utility player in the short term. Also: Chris Young becomes entrenched in the leadoff role.

INSIDE PITCH

Second baseman Emilio Bonifacio is getting some work in the outfield this spring.

He made his second consecutive start in left field Saturday against the Cubs, adding to his versatility while giving the Diamondbacks another roster option if injuries open a spot or two.

The Diamondbacks still envision Bonifacio, considered the fastest man in the organization, as a second baseman, manager Bob Melvin said, "based on what he did for us last year; the speed he brings to the table, [there are] a lot of things he can do for a team."

"We envision him as a second baseman," he continued. "If he can play the outfield with it, too, it gives us some flexibility with him. He's comfortable out there. He's a great athlete," Melvin added.

The Diamondbacks have injury concerns about infielder Chad Tracy (knee) and catcher Miguel Montero (finger), and there is a chance that neither will be fully recovered by the start of the regular season.

No. 3 catcher Robby Hammock appears a lock if Montero is delayed, and Hammock also would be a top candidate, along with Bonifacio and veteran outfielder Trot Nixon, if another spot were available.

Bonifacio played the outfield for Caribbean World Series champion Licey in the Dominican Republic winter league because the middle infield was stocked with Ronnie Belliard and Erick Aybar, and he hit .300 with six stolen bases in 34 regular-season games. He stole three more bases in the six-game Caribbean Series.

In the long term, Bonifacio would be a top candidate to succeed Orlando Hudson at second base if Hudson tests the free agent market after 2007.

NOTES, QUOTES

--LHP Randy Johnson is scheduled to make his first spring training start Monday against Colorado in Tucson, Ariz. Johnson threw 25 pitches on flat ground at HoHoKam Park on Saturday as a final tune-up, after which he autographed balls, hats and trading cards to all fans who asked. Johnson participated in his first pitchers' fundamental practice of the spring Sunday.

--RHP Micah Owings gave up four runs on five hits and two walks while lasting 1 2/3 innings in his second spring start Saturday against the Cubs. He was scratched from his previous scheduled start because of general shoulder soreness, but he said after the Cubs game that his body felt fine and mechanical issues were the cause of his subpar outing. He also focused on throwing his secondary pitches and was squeezed a bit by the ump.  Owings was placed at seventh in the batting order, but was lifted before he was able to hit.

--If the Chicago White Sox's move from Tucson to Phoenix for spring training -- the Sox want to move in 2009; their lease expires in 2012 -- and it signals the beginning of an exodus from Tucson, the Diamondbacks are prepared. The East Valley Tribune reported the team has had talks with the Gila River Indian Community about a possible spring training facility in far south Phoenix. The Gila River group already is a corporate sponsor of the team, and it has the land and money necessary to make the deal work.

--CF Chris Young, whose nine leadoff home runs last season were tied for the sixth most in major league history, will enter the season entrenched as the leadoff hitter after gaining that spot in the order for good last July 24, when the Diamondbacks began the run that took them to the NL West title. "I definitely played better there. I don't know if it was coincidence or what, but I really liked it. If it helps the team, it's good with me," Young said of the leadoff role.

--C Chris Snyder is a candidate to move up in the order this season after hitting mostly eighth a year ago. Snyder caught fire in the second half of 2007, hitting .292 with six homers and 31 RBIs in 161 at-bats after the All-Star break. He had eight hits in his first 13 spring at-bats, including two homers and four doubles. "The way he swung the second half of last year and how he started this spring, it's going to be tough to have him in the '8' hole," manager Bob Melvin said.

BY THE NUMBERS: .316 -- C Chris Snyder's batting average against left-handed pitchers last season. His OPS against lefties was .911.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "It's an honor, but I'm going to focus on getting on the mound every fifth day." -- RHP Micah Owings, who was the No. 7 hitter in the Diamondbacks' lineup for a March 8 exhibition game against the Cubs.


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