The Arizona Diamondbacks could have a familiar name back in the lineup when they return from a week on the road to play their home opener on Friday night.
Manager Kirk Gibson said Stephen Drew(notes), limited to a pinch-hit role thus far because of a lower abdominal strain, could be at shortstop when the Diamondbacks take the field against the Cincinnati Reds, the first of nine straight at home for Arizona.
It’s the fifth home opener for Drew since he quickly rose through the Diamondbacks’ system. The 28-year-old from Valdosta, Ga., is coming off arguably his best season, at the plate and particularly on the field, where his .984 fielding percentage - with a career-low 10 errors - tied Colorado’s Troy Tulowitzki(notes) for best among NL shortstops.
The Diamondbacks won the first and last on their five-game trip. Arizona beat the Cubs in Chicago 6-4 on Wednesday behind the play of Chris Young, who tripled, doubled, drove in two runs and made three standout plays in center field.
“It’s nice to win,” he said, “especially getting ready to go home for our home stand, our home opener. It’s going to be exciting to play in front of our fans.”
The Diamondbacks said that, as of Thursday, about 4,000 tickets were available for the game at 48,633-seat Chase Field.
“We are expecting a sold-out crowd tomorrow night,” spokesman Shaun Rachau said.
Gibson will experience his first home opener as manager. He was bench coach a year ago before taking over when A.J. Hinch was fired on July 1.
“It’s going to be very festive. There’s going to be a very positive vibe,” Gibson said. “You always want to be home.”
Arizona was a far better team at home than on the road a year ago, going 40-41 at Chase Field and 25-56 everywhere else.
This year’s Diamondbacks have a roster significantly shuffled by new general manager Kevin Towers.
They open their home schedule with three apiece against the Reds, St. Louis and San Francisco.
The defending NL Central champion Reds won their first five games before losing to Houston 3-2 on Thursday. Their 5-0 start had been their best in 21 years.
The Reds, in their first road game of the season, will start left-hander Travis Wood(notes) (1-0, 1.29 ERA), who allowed a run on four hits in seven innings in Cincinnati’s 4-2 victory over Milwaukee last Saturday.
Wood will be opposed by Ian Kennedy(notes) (0-0, 4.50), who went six innings in his season debut as he gave up four runs - three earned - and six hits in a 7-6, 11-inning loss at Colorado last Friday.
If Drew does start, Gibson might have to find a way to keep his replacement Willie Bloomquist(notes) in the lineup. Bloomquist, one of the newcomers on the roster, is hitting .348 with a team-high four RBIs. He has five stolen bases. Nobody else in the National League had more than two entering Thursday’s games.