A couple of days ago Nick Piecoro wrote about Nick Ahmed’s right shoulder still being a focal point in camp this spring. It’s been an on and off issue for two years, and last year seriously impacted his batting by the end of the season, causing considerable pain, clearly leading to a diminished batting power.
He’s out of the lineup again today and has not played in over 3 days. While Torey Lovullo used the phrase “day to day, somewhat ominously, things may be coming to a head and Nick’s attempts to avoid surgery seem somewhat in jeopardy.
Lovullo indicated that Ahmed will be getting some imaging done, and there will be 2nd opinions involved. Torey confirmed that back at the end of last season Nick had a PRP injection , and at some point during the offseason he also had a cortisone injection. As Nick indicated to Piecoro, neither did the trick and his attempts to deal with it through rehab and workouts are obviously not working either.
Torey seemed to struggle a bit in articulating a plan for dealing with an extended absence from Ahmed.
“We have some good internal candidates here. I don’t want to get too far ahead of ourselves, but we have a very competitive situation with a lot of young infielders, there’s depth here.”
Geraldo Perdomo, Josh Rojas, Jake Haeger were all mentioned as potential options at SS, but notably he ruled out Ketel Marte as an option at short, as he’d rather just keep him at secondbase.
“Right now I don’t want to get too far ahead of ourselves. I’m looking for a backup for Nicky. That’s my first objective. That’s why you’ve seen Rojas over there, that’s why Perdomo has been getting a lot of work there, and Hager has been getting some work there as well.”
The question here is can any of these players step in beyond a “backup” role and play every day in the event of an extended absence from Ahmed ?
Ahmed is signed through 2023, total $18M. After improving at the plate, and increasing his OPS+ every year for 4 straight years, peaking at 97 in 2020, last year was a big step back. He hit just .221 with only 5 HR, for a 67 OPS+. Battling knee issues as well as the shoulder, even his fielding seemed to fall off his other worldly prowess to just “good”.
If Ahmed requires surgery or has an extended absence it will be a potential big blow to the club, both on the field and financially. They can only hope that Geraldo Perdomo is ready to step into a near every day role. Josh Rojas has graded out very poorly defensively at shortstop and might be exposed if asked to play too many innings there. Jake Hager is the quintessential light hitting utility player and should not be a starting option more than once a week.
Somewhat encouragingly, Perdomo ripped an RBI double to left as I was finishing up this story. Perhaps the future is now for the Diamondbacks shortstop prospect.