Posted on July 30, 2017, by Bryan Zarpentine
With baseball’s stretch run upon us, the Arizona Diamondbacks appear to have lost their starting shortstop for the foreseeable future. Arizona shortstop Chris Owings has been diagnosed with a broken middle finger. He suffered the injury while trying to bunt during the 2nd inning of Sunday’s loss to the Cardinals.
In all likelihood, Owings will be placed on the 10-day DL on Tuesday. The Diamondbacks are off on Monday before beginnign a series with the Cubs on Tuesday. Instead of traveling with the team to Chicago, Owings has been sent back to Arizona to be examined by a hand specialist. The Diamondbacks don’t have a timetable for his return. But it’s possible that Owings will be sidelined for several weeks.
“I think he’s understandably frustrated,” Arizona manager Torey Lovullo said of Owings after Sunday’s game.
Owings has proven to be a useful and versatile part of the Diamondbacks this year. On the season, he’s hitting .268 with an OPS of .741. He’s already set new career highs in home runs with 12 and RBIs with 51. With three more doubles, Owings will also have a new career high in that category, as he has enjoyed a breakout season offensively.
Equally important has been his defensive versatility. Owings has played primarily shortstop this season, starting 51 games. However, he also has 14 starts at second base and 23 in right field. His ability to play solid defense at multiple positions has been invaluable for the Diamondbacks this season.
“That hurts,” Lovullo said of the loss of Owings. “This group has been tough all year long, they’re resilient, we are prepared for these moments, we talked about these moments. No team has perfect seasons where everyone is healthy from start to finish. It’s time for guys to step up and pick up C.O.”
The injury to Owings comes just two days after the Diamondbacks saw starting pitcher Robbie Ray struck in the head with a line drive. Ray, who’s in the midst of an exceptional season, has been placed on the 7-day concussion DL.
“It’s tough,” Diamondbacks catcher Chris Iannetta said after Sunday’s game. “This has been a tough road trip, a tough series. We’ve already lost two guys for varying times, whatever they may be. For us, we’ve got to take that next-man-up mentality. That’s the only way we can do it. It’s tough to lose those guys that are a big part of our team”
The obvious replacement for Owings, at least at shortstop, would be Nick Ahmed. However, Ahmed is also on the DL, ironically with a broken hand. Ahmed had hand surgery at the end of June and recently had pins removed. But he’s yet to appear in any minor league rehab games, and so it will take some time before he’s ready to return.
In the meantime, Ketel Marte appears set to take over most of the duties at shortstop for Arizona. Marte has had limited opportunities with the Diamondbacks this season and has spent most of the season in triple-A. However, Marte has been productive at triple-A, and he’s been able to carry that over to his time in the majors. In just 62 major league at-bats this year, Marte is hitting .242 with four home runs and four doubles.
With Marte in place and Ahmed working his way back, the Diamondbacks are unlikely to explore the trade market to replace Owings. However, it may not hurt Arizona to add some infield depth before the trade deadline. With no timeline on when Owings will return, considering how versatile he was for the Diamondbacks, an upgrade to the bench may be in order.