Photography: Jordan Megenhardt
By Greg Dillard
With less than three left in Spring Training, the position battle at first base still appears to be wide open for the D-backs.
The trio vying for playing time: Juan Miranda, Russell Branyan, and Brandon Allen all continue to hit well.
It was Miranda who stood out in Wednesday afternoon’s game against the Angels. He received the start at first base, and took advantage of the opportunity.
In the bottom of the fourth inning, Miranda launched a long two run home run to right field. That long ball was his third of the Spring. Miranda now owns a .294 batting average to go with a .618 slugging percentage.
In his third plate appearance, Miranda rocketed a single back up the middle in the fifth.
Miranda made it a three hit afternoon by hitting a leadoff single into right field to start the bottom of the eighth.
It was a big offensive day for Miranda, who had cooled off a bit at the plate recently.
“He’s had a couple crappy games,” manager Kirk Gibson said. “He came back and played well, looking good at the plate. He’s pretty competitive.”
Branyan entered the Spring as a non-roster invitee, but has proven himself to be a threat at the plate. The left-handed hitter has collected 16 hits, nine RBI, three home runs and an outstanding .794 slugging percentage.
Against the Angels, Branyan pinch hit in the bottom of the fifth, and continued his hot hitting by lacing a single into right field.
After advancing to second base on a wild pitch, he would then score on Chris Young’s single.
As camp progresses, Branyan continues to make a statement for inclusion on the roster.
“He’s had a good spring,” General Manager Kevin Towers said. “He hasn’t done anything to hurt himself. He’s performed very well. He’s certainly probably been one of our better offensive players we’ve had this Spring.”
Allen has been off to a strong start at the plate this Spring as well, batting .343 with four doubles.