Vargas impressing D-backs with work ethic

Vargas impressing D-backs with work ethic

PHOENIX -- If you've watched the D-backs at all this spring, it's been hard not to notice infielder Ildemaro Vargas.

Offense, defense, baserunning -- you name it, and Vargas has impressed.

What has pleased D-backs manager Torey Lovullo most about the 25-year-old Venezuela native?

"His ability to play the game full speed without the fear of making a mistake," Lovullo said.

After Thursday's 8-5 loss to the Brewers, Vargas is hitting .321 (9-for-28) with two homers, four RBIs and a .988 OPS.

Vargas' solo home run

"It's my motivation of playing in the big leagues, and the desire to be a good player," Vargas said. "I'm excited about coming to camp this spring, and I'm happy and focused on playing hard. I feel pretty good at the plate."

Vargas has not had a lack of motivation since his son, Austin, was born.

Initially signed by the Cardinals in 2008, Vargas worked his way up the St. Louis system before being released near the end of Spring Training in 2015. At the time, Vargas' son was just 4 months old, so quitting baseball was not an option.

"I wanted to do it for my son," Vargas said. "After the Cardinals released me, I believed in myself that I could do this, and I just want to show everybody that I can play the game."

After a stint in independent ball, Vargas signed with the D-backs on May 26, 2015. Last year, he moved up three levels in the Arizona system, finishing with Triple-A Reno, where he hit .354 in 49 games.

Though he considers shortstop his best position, Vargas has played all over the diamond in his career, seeing time at second, short, third and left and right fields.

Vargas' nifty pick at short

This spring, Vargas has played 10 games at second, seven at short and four at third.

"We're three weeks into games, and he hasn't let up," Lovullo said. "So we want to see it continue and last as long as possible, gain that experience, and if he continues to do it, that's how we want all these young players to play."

Vargas has not been talked about much as a candidate to make the Opening Day roster, but it's hard to imagine that his performance hasn't made the D-backs take notice.

"I'm happy to be here," Vargas said. "I'm feeling confident, and I'm trying to take every opportunity they're giving me to show that I can play the game and that I belong in the big leagues."

Steve Gilbert has covered the D-backs for since 2001. Follow him on Twitter @SteveGilbertMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.