Any concerns over Brandon Allen’s ability to survive in left field for the D-backs dissipated quickly when he made a pretty fantastic catch jumping into the outfield wall near the D-backs bullpen, to rob an extra-base hit against the San Diego Padres on Wednesday.
Allen has been a first baseman, primarily, in his professional career, and played that position when he was originally called up by the D-backs to play in 2009. But, of course, the team has Adam LaRoche now, so if Allen is going to get at bats in the big leagues, he isn’t going to get very many of them playing first.
Allen split time between first and left at Triple-A Reno, and if he plays well in left field (and hits well) this month, he could be a left field consideration for the D-backs in 2011.
“It’s been going good,” Allen said. “I’m getting comfortable with it. I’m excited (to play there in the big leagues).”
Manager Kirk Gibson wrote Allen’s name into the lineup card on Wednesday, his first day with the team.
“He has played left field a couple times a week down (in Reno) he’s a consideration out there,” Manager Kirk Gibson said. “If we keep (LaRoche), then he’s not going to play at first too much. His bat is intriguing and he kind of got anointed last year, to put it bluntly. So he’s been down there, he’s worked and we’ll see how he adjusts this time through.”
In Reno, Allen worked with manager Brett Butler, who was a fine defensive center field during his long Major League career. Allen said Butler’s presence and coaching style made the transition go smoothly.
“He’s hands-on, which is good when they’re just throwing you out there,” Allen said. “He was good. He helped me out, taught me a lot of things: playing balls off the wall, where to go when they get hit it was good.”
One adjustment to keep your eye on is Allen’s throwing ability in left. Playing first base, the only throws he was likely to make in a game were cutoff plays to home on balls hit down the right-field line. He is going to have to throw much more often now, though he said the different length of the throw is negligible.
“The main goal is to hit the cutoff man,” he said. “It’s a little different mechanically, but you still have a target hit which is not that far away. So you just get it to him. If you get a good angle on it, it will go all the way. If not, he can cut it and make the play.”
The next month will be interesting to watch, when we’ll get a good look at him in the outfield as Allen’s defensive sample size gets a little larger. The early returns are looking awfully promising, though.