Backup shortstops aplenty for D-backs

Backup shortstops aplenty for D-backs

Backup shortstops aplenty for D-backs
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- In three of his four full Major League seasons, shortstop Stephen Drew has played in at least 150 games.

Drew's durability could affect the way the D-backs view the importance of a backup shortstop. The more games he figures to play, the less they need to worry about having a guy who has to play more than once a week.

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Here's a look at some of the candidates for the job:

Tony Abreu: Probably the best defender of the bunch, Abreu figures to be in a battle for the final spot on the bench.

The D-backs had high hopes for Abreu when they acquired him from the Dodgers in 2009. They expected him to be their starting second baseman last year, but then wound up signing Kelly Johnson. That shifted Abreu to the bench and he seemed to struggle with keeping his swing sharp in that role.

GM Kevin Towers prefers to have more experienced players on the bench, so unless Abreu has a very impressive spring, or they feel the other candidates cannot play short adequately enough, he could face an uphill battle.

Willie Bloomquist: The versatile veteran is a lock to make the team. He can play all over the field and does have experience at short. Though he only played one game there last season, he has seen time in 150 games at the position over his career.

"I'd like to think I'm capable of playing anywhere," Bloomquist said. "It all depends on the personnel that's on the team. Last year it wasn't really needed for me to play there, but the year before I played a lot of short. It just all depends on personnel and how things shake out, and what spots open up and we need help at."

Bloomquist is probably better suited for playing second, third and the outfield at this stage of his career, but certainly seems capable of filling in at short occasionally.

Geoff Blum: Another veteran with a spot locked up, Blum came up as a shortstop and could wind up being the primary backup at the position if Abreu is not on the roster.

"If you ask him, he thinks it's his best position," D-backs GM Kevin Towers said when asked if he would be comfortable with Blum as the main backup. "He certainly doesn't have great range, but he's got enough arm, he's sure handed and he positions himself right."

Towers is right; Blum does consider himself a shortstop first and has played 217 games there during his 12-year career.

"That's the position I came up playing," he said.

Ryan Roberts: A name that had not been talked about for the position until Towers mentioned it the other day.

Roberts has not played short yet in the big leagues, but has played it in the Minors, including last year at Triple-A Reno. The 30-year-old has been impressive in the early stages of camp.

"I would imagine before the end of the spring he'll probably see some time over there," Towers said referring to Roberts at short. "He's a very valuable guy because he can play everywhere, including the outfield, he's got some power and he's shown me great plate discipline."

Steve Gilbert is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Inside the D-backs, and follow him on Twitter @dbackswriter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.