Originally posted on Fox Sports Arizona  |  Last updated 3/16/13
PEORIA, Ariz. -- When the Diamondbacks take the field Monday they'll be two weeks from Opening Day 2013. With twelve Cactus League games left then, the D-backs will have to start making some difficult decisions, though manager Kirk Gibson says there is no rush yet. "When the general manager comes into my office and starts opening up the chalkboard then I think we'll be talking about it, but he hasn't done that to this point," Gibson said. "I don't think right now it's a pressing issue at all." Still, the D-backs are nearing a critical point in the decision making process as they determine who to carry on the Opening Day roster. Gibson is still coy in discussing the decisions to be made and also careful not to get ahead of himself. "There's going to be some tough decisions when it all comes down to it," Gibson said "I could predict who I think my 25 guys are going to be, but it's going to change." That caveat out of the way, here's a look at the remaining position battles and developing situations with Opening Day about two weeks away. Who will win the fifth spot in the rotation? It's probably a little early still to handicap the race between Patrick Corbin, Tyler Skaggs and Randall Delgado for the final spot in the starting rotation, as each still has two or three outings to go. However, it's worth examining where the competition stands and who might be the leader. Naturally, Gibson isnt tipping his hand here, but he has seen things from each pitcher that he's liked. Corbin has made four appearances already and could make as many as three more. Skaggs made his fifth appearance Saturday, throwing 2 23 innings and giving up five runs (two earned) on three hits and four walks, and will likely make two more. Delgado has had three outings, one shortened by rain to 1 23 innings, and should get two more. Right now, Corbin looks like the leader for the job. He has had three really strong outings -- one run allowed in nine total innings -- and one bad one, a start that lasted just one inning and saw him surrender four runs. His fifth outing comes Sunday. Skaggs, meanwhile, has the near opposite to speak of: four shaky starts and one good one, a scoreless three-inning appearance against Team Mexico. Outside that, he's given up 11 earned runs in nine innings. He issued four walks in five batters to start the seventh inning Saturday and exited. Delgado made the race a bit tighter in his last outing, an excellent effort that saw just three hits in four scoreless innings. "Now it's time for us to see who can execute a game plan and who can't. " Gibson said. "We'll make a good decision on it, but either way coming out of camp we're going to have some good depth." That is all, as Gibson noted Saturday, assuming Wade Miley (biceps) is healthy on Opening Day. If he's not, the D-backs could need to keep two of these three pitchers. Who gets squeezed out of the infield picture? The D-backs came to camp knowing they had too many infielders, and determining the odd man out could be the most difficult decision the D-backs have to make, for non-baseball reasons. First base, second base and third base are all set. Shortstop will come down to Cliff Pennington and Willie Bloomquist, though the position could ultimately become a bit of a platoon. Veterans Eric Chavez and Eric Hinske are also clear pieces of the picture, having been signed for specific reasons this offseason. That leaves John McDonald, who came to the D-backs in an Aug. 2011 trade and played in 70 games last season. Now 38, McDonald looks most likely to go, as much as the D-backs would likely hate to lose his veteran presence. McDonald is very well liked in the organization and his skill set is valued, but he might just become a victim of roster limitations. Things can change a good deal in two weeks, however, and players can get injured so it's dangerous to put certainty on situations like this one. How will the outfield look on Opening Day? This would not be a question right now were it not for Cody Ross's leg injury. He was expected to be back in action 2-3 weeks after the original diagnosis, but Gibson said Saturday that Ross is progressing a little slower than hoped and admitted Opening Day might be in jeopardy. "Can he be ready? I don't know," Gibson said. "I hope so, but if he's not then I know there's somebody else who wants his spot. Those are the kind of things that we have no control over at this point." Jason Kubel is also nursing some left knee soreness, but it's not believed to be anything serious so he should be in left field on Opening Day. Adam Eaton is a near lock to start in center field, and if Ross is not ready Gerardo Parra would likely start in right field. That would leave the D-backs in need of a fourth outfielder. A.J. Pollock is the obvious choice, given his 31 games with the D-backs last season. Tony Campana could get consideration too, or the D-backs could opt to keep an extra pitcher and make Hinske their fourth outfielder temporarily. Pollock, though, seems the most likely solution if one is needed. Is the bullpen set? The assumption even before spring training was that the D-backs bullpen was all locked up, but Gibson suggested Saturday that may not be the case. "There's some things that could happen with that," Gibson said. "We've got a couple weeks to go, we'll go through it and we'll continue to try and get everybody prepared, ready to go for the season." If Miley isn't healthy on Opening Day -- though he's expected to be -- Josh Collmenter could slide into the rotation. That would create the need for a long reliever, a role one of the fifth starter candidates might fill or someone else from the minors like Charles Brewer or Zeke Spruill. Gibson also said this week he expects lefty Joe Paterson to contribute at the major league level at some point this season. Is that now? Maybe, as Gibson has liked what he's seen this spring. If Paterson makes the Opening Day roster, it may mean someone else gets bumped from the bullpen picture. And again, injuries can happen, so the bullpen may not look like everyone expected at the start of spring training. Who will be the backup catcher? Wil Nieves and Rod Barajas are vying for the backup catching job behind Miguel Montero and have had plenty of looks, especially while Montero was with Team Venezuela in the World Baseball Classic. Barajas has hit a little better this spring and has better career offensive numbers. Nieves, though, is the better defensive catcher. There hasn't been much light shed on this competition so far, but it will likely come down to which skill the D-backs prefer to keep behind Montero, though it will be a relatively minor decision if Montero plays as much as he did in 2012.
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