Could the Diamondbacks move Josh Rojas?

PHOENIX – With more than one week remaining in the regular season, planning and strategy have begun for the 2023 season. As the Arizona Diamondbacks continue to vacillate around 10 games under 500, internal conversations and fan speculation now address the future.

Who stays, who departs, who is on the radar screen, and a potential wish list of free agents all surface as major 2023 discussions.

Prior to the opening of the final home stand of the season Friday, field manager Torey Lovullo told reporters, seemingly reluctantly, wheels have begun to turn. While he refrained from discussing specific players or situations, there is no secret that several players appear on the Arizona bubble for 2023.

One could be infielder Josh Rojas, whose defensive struggles at third base have been glaring, and whether he shows improvement could influence a future with the team. Since traded to Arizona from Houston as part of the block-buster Zack Grienke deal, Rojas displayed versatility between slots in the outfield and infield.

“My comfort level has been at third base, for sure,” Rojas said before the final home stand commenced Friday. “But there are things we are working on over there. It’s a foot work issue and moving front and back. Over past few weeks, I’ve been in between with my footwork. My feet were not moving the way I want. At times, I’m second-guessing. Within the past week, we’ve had some very good workouts and working on my feet and set-up.”

For players asked to refine skills, the microscope seems enlarged, In the case of Rojas, the organization knows there are mass deficiencies in his defensive game, and strong improvement is in order.

In 85 games this season at third base through Sept. 23, Rojas had 228 chances and committed 13 errors. That equates to a sub-par .943 fielding percentage, and he has been involved in only 16 double plays.

In 2021 as a shortstop, Rojas, a native of nearby Buckeye, Arizona, fielded 115 changes and committed seven errors. That registered as a .939 fielding percentage, and clearly caught the attention of decision-makers.

“He is very good infielder on this team, but he is in a fielding slump,” said Lovullo. “I sat him down and told him I would cut into his playing time because I have not been satisfied with his defense. He needs to go out, work and improve. He got away from some of the basics and it’s my fault and the coaches fault. He’s accepting coaching, but I wanted to pull him out and explain he needs to get better.”

For the remainder of the season, Lovullo and decision-makers will look at Rojas as a third baseman. Once the off-season begins, the Diamondbacks could turn the page.

“Where his evaluation goes this off-season will be part of our discussions,” Lovullo added. “I’m not sure, but he’s very dynamic and can’t play the outfield. Josh is a good baseball player and he’ll have some opportunities to show us what he can do.”

With competition coming from Emmanuel Rivera for playing time at third, Rojas could be one player on the bubble. If his defensive liability persists, the Diamondbacks would be in a position to strongly ascertain his value during the coming off-season.

On the diamond … Making his eighth start of the season and first since recalled from AAA Reno, starter Tommy Henry could not survive the home run ball. Tagged for three bombs in the first four innings and five earned runs overall, Henry left trailing by three, but teammates picked up the rookie left-hander.

Managing to tie the game at 5-5, a costly throwing error by third baseman Sergio Alcantara on a force play at second in the ninth inning led to the decisive run. When Evan Longoria reached on that error to prolong the inning, J. D. Davis followed with a run-producing double into the left field corner and the San Francisco Giants survived with a 6-5 victory over Arizona before 25,949.

In the first three innings, Henry surrendered home runs to Brandon Crawford (in the second), Auston Wynns (in the third), and David Villar in the fourth.

“I would hope (giving up home runs) would be uncharacteristic of most pitchers,” Henry said after his outing on Friday. “Sometimes, that’s just the way things happen. You never want that to be the highlight of the outing.”

Back in Chase Field – former Diamondbacks righthander Shelly Miller has a new lease on life. After early season release from the New York Yankees, Miller, who will be 32-years-old on Oct. 10, signed a minor league contract with the Giants on June 8. At AAA Sacramento, the right-hander was 2-4 and had a 2.87 ERA over 43 games, including a period with AAA Scranton in the Yankees organization.

Miller was dealt to Arizona from Atlanta in what some consider one the worst trades in Diamondbacks history. On Dec. 9, 2015, Arizona sent pitcher Aaron Blair, outfielder Ender Inciarte and shortstop Dansby Swanson a former number one draft pick overall, for Miller. For the Diamondbacks, Miller went 5-18, and an ERA of 6.35 in 28 starts. Since, he’s roamed the Major League baseball landscape with Texas, Milwaukee, the Chicago Cubs, Pittsburgh, the Yankees, and now the Giants.

“(Miller) brings experience, first and foremost,” said Giants manager Gabe Kapler before Friday’s game. “He has a toughness, durability, dependability. He will be a flexible sort of Swiss army knife kind-of-pitcher for us. He can take three innings, take one, or build up to 60 pitches. If we got into a down game early, he would the guy we would depend on to cover some innings for us.”

On Friday night, Miller made his debut with the Giants. Entering the game tied at 5-5 in the sixth inning, he went 2.2 innings, allowed no runs, and recorded seven strikeouts.

In nine major league seasons, Miller has compiled a 38-57 record, a 4.19 ERA  in 132 starts.

Final homestand of the season – the Chase Field schedule concludes this weekend. On Saturday, look for righty Merrill Kelly (12-7, 3.15 ERA) taking on Giants’ righty Alex Cobb (6-6, 3.48). For the Sunday finale, it’s righty Drey Jamison (2-0, 1.38) for Arizona and the starter for San Francisco is to be announced. The Diamondbacks then close out their season on the road with two at Houston, three next weekend in San Francisco and three in Milwaukee.

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