A former local college player at Arizona State, Willie Bloomquist has played every position but pitcher and catcher in a nine-year major league career that began in Seattle in 2002. He hit .267 with three home runs and 17 RBI with Kansas City and Cincinnati last season, joining the Reds for the stretch drive in the NL Central.
He had his most productive year in 2009 as a semi-regular playing mostly outfield for Kansas City and hit .265 with four homers, 29 RBI, and 25 stolen bases in a career-high 468 at-bats. Bloomquist has 104 career stolen bases and a 79% success rate.
"Your good teams have experienced bench players who know their roles," Arizona general manager Kevin Towers said. "With double-switches in the National League, I think it is vital for a manager to have weapons on the bench and in the 'pen, where he can choose and manage the game knowing the type of matchups he might get late in the ballgame."
Bloomquist, 33, has made 112 career starts at shortstop, 94 in center field, 85 at third base, 80 at second base, and 63 in right field. He also would provide outfield depth in the event that tentative starting left fielder Xavier Nady is needed more at first base this season.
Towers added versatile free agents Melvin Mora and Geoff Blum, each of whom can play multiple infield and outfield positions, after trading third baseman Mark Reynolds and losing first baseman Adam LaRoche to free agency.
--General manager Kevin Towers already has made versatility a top priority in his offseason signings—INF/OF Geoff Blum, INF/OF Melvin Mora, and 1B/OF Xavier Nady. While Mora has played most often at third base (861 starts) and looks to be the starter in place of traded 3B Mark Reynolds, he also has made 267 starts in the outfield and 177 at shortstop. Blum has made 544 starts at third, 170 at second, 148 at shortstop, and 42 at first base.
--The D-backs are seeking to add one more veteran starting pitcher into the spring training mix, probably on a minor league contract. It is unlikely to be RHP Rodrigo Lopez, signed as a free agent by GM Kevin Towers in San Diego in 1995. Lopez went 7-16 with a 5.00 ERA in 2010, leading Arizona with 200 innings and 33 starts, but he also led the majors with 37 home runs allowed. As a flyball pitcher, Lopez does not fit well in Chase Field, where the ball carries well.
--Joe Garagiola Sr., still active on the D-backs' television broadcasting crew, received the lifetime achievement award named after commissioner Bud Selig at the eighth annual Professional Baseball Scouts Foundation dinner recently. Garagiola won the 1991 Ford C. Frick Award for broadcasting excellence and also has been in the forefront of Major League Baseball's campaign to rid the game of chewing tobacco.
--OF Alfredo Marte received a 50-game suspension after he tested positive for a performance-enhancing substance. Marte, who is on the Class AAA Reno roster, hit .260 with nine homers and 61 RBI at Class A Visalia of the California League in 2010. The 21-year-old is not considered a top prospect.
DIAMOND STAT:7—Positions at which Melvin Mora has started in his 12-year major league career.
QUOTABLE: "I think if you look at them, you just see maybe Kevin targets a little different type of people. We definitely want to develop a ton of character within our clubhouse." —Manager Kirk Gibson on the veteran acquisitions made by GM Kevin Towers.
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