Elbow injury to sideline Gregorius for few weeks

GM Towers outlines timetable for shortstop, touches on prominent spring topics

Elbow injury to sideline Gregorius for few weeks

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Didi Gregorius was to be a long shot to make the D-backs' Opening Day roster.

Now, due to an elbow injury, he has no shot.

The D-backs revealed that Gregorius felt discomfort in his right (throwing) elbow around Christmas time, and that Arizona general manager Kevin Towers said he was diagnosed with a "slight strain of the [ulnar collateral] area."

The injury is not expected to require surgery, but it has kept Gregorius from swinging a bat or throwing for the past month.

"He's probably two weeks away from starting a throwing program and probably starting to hit off a tee," Towers said.

The team is still hopeful that Gregorius will be able to get into a Cactus League game before the end of the spring, but it believes that even if he doesn't, the shortstop should be available within a couple of weeks of the start of the regular season.

"If there's a strain, it's the right area to have a strain," Towers said. "He doesn't need Tommy John, doesn't need to be surgically repaired. Nothing we're overly concerned about, but just with a new player here and with no history with the player, just trying to err on the side of being cautious, if anything."

Gregorius was acquired by the D-backs on Dec. 11 as part of a three-team deal that sent top pitching prospect Trevor Bauer to Cleveland. The D-backs see Gregorius as their shortstop of the future and have high hopes for him.

"We think with the glove and stuff, he's ready right now," Towers said when asked about Gregorius' readiness for the big leagues. "But it's not going to hurt him if he gets more ABs in the Minor Leagues before he's up here. We don't view him as a bench player, so when he comes up here we want him to play, and we've got a couple of good veterans for this year that can handle the position."

Cliff Pennington, Willie Bloomquist and John McDonald will battle for playing time at shortstop this spring.

Towers in his first meeting with the media this spring touched on a variety of topics:

Two lefties in the 'pen
In separate trades this winter, the D-backs acquired lefties Matt Reynolds and Tony Sipp to provide manager Kirk Gibson with a pair of matchup bullpen options.

"I would say that Reynolds is more of a guy who could work through an inning, probably a little bit earlier in a ballgame," Towers said. "He could give you probably a little more length. Sipp's been historically very, very good against lefties and maybe more of a left-on-left guy late in the game."

Makeup of the lineup
When Towers took over as GM toward the end of the 2010 season, the D-backs were in the process of shattering the single-season strikeout mark.

With trades of Mark Reynolds and Adam LaRoche that winter, Towers began the process of shifting from more of a power/strikeout lineup to one that makes more contact.

"Hopefully it's not a ballclub where we have to rely on the three-run home run to get back into games or to win ballgames," Towers said. "If you look at our lineup, we're still going to hit a lot of home runs, but I think we've got more contact-type hitters, hopefully a little higher on-base -- at least early in our lineup -- and be able to apply pressure throughout the game on our opponent."

Back end of the bullpen
Closer J.J. Putz and setup man David Hernandez return from 2012, and Towers added right-hander Heath Bell, who had been a closer for most of his career before falling on hard times last year in Miami.

Towers was asked who would close games if Putz needed a day off.

"I think who's rested, who has the hot hand," he said. "I think the great thing about David and Heath is they could throw back-to-back-to-back. They're very resilient, they hold their stuff. I think it will just be situation by situation -- if J.J. happens to be done for a day or we're giving him two days."

Fifth spot in the rotation
Towers said that there is no front-runner between Tyler Skaggs, Patrick Corbin and Randall Delgado for the fifth spot in the rotation.

"I would say it's really between Corbin, Skaggs and Delgado, but I want guys like David Holmberg who's here in camp and had a good year in Double-A for us to compete for that spot, as well as Chase Anderson, who had a good year in the [Arizona] Fall League," Towers said. "I hate to give out jobs this early in spring."

The two who don't make the rotation will go to Triple-A Reno, because the team views their futures in the rotation as opposed to the bullpen.

Steve Gilbert is a reporter for MLB.com. F ollow him on Twitter @SteveGilbertMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.