The Arizona Republic
The Arizona Republic
Alex Romero was a second-tier outfielder when spring training began, a guy whose playing time came mostly at the end of Cactus League games when the starters were on the golf course.
Well, the Diamondbacks broke camp on Thursday with Romero making the team. In an upset, he won the final bench job over veteran Trot Nixon.
“I feel really excited,” he said. “It was a good surprise to make the team.”
Romero said he was going to buy phone cards so he could share the good news with everyone back home in Venezuela. He can honestly tell them he earned his way onto the team, hitting .333 (19 for 57) compared to Nixon’s .218 (12 for 55).
Manager Bob Melvin said Romero wasn’t on his radar as being a legitimate candidate to make the team until the first week of games, after Romero delivered a game-winning double in an exhibition game in Hermosillo. The hits didn’t stop.
“He just kept knocking on the door,” Melvin said.
Nixon, who was in camp on a minor-league deal, was weighing his options, Melvin said. It is unclear if he is leaning toward accepting an assignment to Triple-A Tucson.
Burke to see time at first
One reason Nixon seemed to have an edge on Romero was that he learned to play first base.
But Melvin said the club will use the versatile Chris Burke as one of the backups at the position. Melvin also said that, in a pinch, the D’backs could put third baseman Mark Reynolds at first base.
Burke, who hit .361 with seven doubles and four homers in the spring, will be getting into the lineup on a semi-regular basis.
“I have to find ways to get Burke into games and first base is going to be one of those places,” Melvin said. “I’m going to try to move him around as much as I can. He’s basically an everyday player that doesn’t have an everyday job.”
4 vie for 2 spots in pen
Melvin said right-handers Jailen Peguero and Yusmeiro Petit are in the mix for two bullpen jobs. Right-handers Dustin Nippert and Brandon Medders (both out of minor-league options) are also candidates.