Peter O'Brien's swing, not catching, leads to minor league re-assignment

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- The Diamondbacks on Sunday assigned catcher Peter O'Brien to minor league camp in their latest roster cut. But it wasn't because of O'Brien's still-developing and sometimes shaky work behind the plate.

According to Arizona manager Chip Hale, it was O'Brien's biggest strength, his swing, that didn't serve him well enough to continue the fight for a roster spot.

"We're pretty happy with what we're seeing for the four (catchers) who are left, and we just felt it's time for him to go get more at-bats and get ready for the season," Hale said. "Big guys with longer limbs need to get their swings right. You don't want to start them off slow."

The decision to send O'Brien to the minors delays his free agent clock, as FOX Sports Arizona's Jack Magruder pointed out last week.

Tuffy Gosewisch and Gerald Laird appear to be favorites to make the Opening Day roster, but the D-backs will continue to take a look at Blake Lalli and Jordan Pacheco, who have value with their ability to play other positions. Pacheco could play in the infield or outfield. Also being calculated into the 25-man roster come the regular season is Oscar Hernandez, the Rule 5 pick currently out while he recovers from a hand injury. He must be part of the roster when he's off the disabled list, otherwise Arizona must offer him back to Tampa Bay or work out some other compensation.

Hale said O'Brien's catching issues -- including a few instances where he failed to return the ball to the pitcher -- aren't as concerning as his swing. O'Brien was coveted in last season's Martin Prado trade with the New York Yankees because of his bat, but he never got ahold of a pitch to show his pure power that led to 24 home runs in 76 games in Double-A last year.

O'Brien put up a .250/.250/.323 line in 28 at-bats this spring, tallying seven hits, all singles.

Hale said the team had yet to discuss O'Brien's future. The Diamondbacks appear willing to work with him as a catcher moving forward, but if his swing finds a rhythm, there's always a chance they'll attempt to find another spot for him.

"If he's a potential 30-, 40-home run guy with 100 RBI; we need him to play a lot," Hale said. "Is that at catcher or is that somewhere else?"

The D-backs won't need to answer that question until O'Brien gets his bat going.

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