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Randal Grichuk aims for speedy return from ankle surgery for Diamondbacks

Randal Grichuk isn’t sure if he is going to be ready for Opening Day after undergoing surgery on his right ankle last month, but the new Diamondbacks' outfielder doesn’t sound concerned about it either way.

“It’s one of those things where there’s a good chance I’ll be ready for Opening Day and if not, it’s a week,” Grichuk said Sunday. “In the grand scheme of things, big picture, it’s nothing to worry about.”

Grichuk, speaking on his first day at Diamondbacks camp after agreeing to a one-year, $2 million deal on Saturday, needed surgery to have bone spurs removed from his ankle. He said his ankle had been bothering him “off and on” for years but the issue worsened as he worked more on his mobility during the offseason.

Sep 9, 2022; Denver, Colorado, USA; Colorado Rockies center fielder Randal Grichuk (15) fields the ball in the third inning against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Coors Field. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 9, 2022; Denver, Colorado, USA; Colorado Rockies center fielder Randal Grichuk (15) fields the ball in the third inning against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Coors Field. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

He thinks that if his progression through camp is smooth he should have time to be ready for the March 28 opener. If he has to back off and give it an extra day here or there, he might run out of time.

He expects to start off camp as a designated hitter before graduating into playing the outfield, a progression that could extend into the regular season.

Grichuk said he lives about 15 minutes from Salt River Fields and found the idea of staying in his home year-round an appealing part of playing for the Diamondbacks. He also said he admires the Diamondbacks’ style of play, having seen them up close multiple times while with the Rockies the past two years.

“They play the game hard,” he said. “They run ground balls out, fly balls out. They finish the play. I came up with the Cardinals and that’s something they preach and teach. I feel like a lot of players and teams have started playing more of a relaxed game and I like the intensity they bring and I like the hustle.”

Emmanuel Rivera joins backup shortstop mix

The Diamondbacks’ hunt for a backup shortstop seems to grow by the day, with third baseman Emmanuel Rivera now expected to get looks at the position in camp.

“I played shortstop all my life,” Rivera said, speaking through translator Alex Arpiza. “I moved over to third base during my professional tenure, but pretty much I’ve always been a shortstop and in some of the previous winter leagues I played shortstop. So I feel comfortable there.”

Arizona Diamondbacks third baseman Emmanuel Rivera (15) celebrates after hitting an RBI single during the second inning against the Philadelphia Phillies in game four of the NLCS of the 2023 MLB playoffs at Chase Field in Phoenix on Oct. 20, 2023.
Arizona Diamondbacks third baseman Emmanuel Rivera (15) celebrates after hitting an RBI single during the second inning against the Philadelphia Phillies in game four of the NLCS of the 2023 MLB playoffs at Chase Field in Phoenix on Oct. 20, 2023.

Rivera said manager Torey Lovullo approached him about the idea on Sunday, a day after Grichuk’s signing likely ate up one of the potential bench spots open in camp.

Lovullo was asked about another possible backup shortstop option in second baseman Ketel Marte. Lovullo said he expected Marte to get some reps at the position but wasn’t sure if he would be a candidate to start a game there.

The Diamondbacks also are expected to give infielder Jace Peterson a chance to show he can handle backup shortstop duties.

First base options?

Lovullo named Rivera and Pavin Smith as a pair of backup first-base options, adding that outfielder Lourdes Gurriel Jr., who has played the position in the past, could also see time there this spring.

First baseman Christian Walker has not needed much downtime the past two years, starting 146 and 150 games at first in 2022 and 2023, respectively.

This article originally appeared on Arizona Republic: DBacks’ Randal Grichuk aiming for speedy return from ankle surgery