Miranda Finds Land Of Opportunity In Arizona

PHOENIX—Juan Miranda never really had much of a chance in New York, where he was blocked by perennial Yankees all-star Mark Teixeira at first base.

And Miranda would have been in the same situation had the Diamondbacks been successful in luring Paul Konerko back to the Valley with their three-year, $30 million offer at the Winter Meetings—though the Scottsdale native and resident eventually chose to remain loyal to the White Sox.

Things are different now. It appears that Miranda is about to get his shot. After being acquired in a trade with the Yankees for righthander Scottie Allen early in the offseason, Miranda will enter spring training with every opportunity to fill the vacancy at first base created when the Diamondbacks allowed Adam LaRoche to leave via free agency.

"Miranda needs an opportunity. I think if he gets the opportunity, he can do some good things," general manager Kevin Towers said.

Towers, a keen judge of talent, should know. He served as a special assistant to Yankees GM Brian Cashman last year after spending the previous 13 seasons putting together playoff contenders in San Diego. As such, Towers got a good look at Miranda, a 6-foot, 220-pound lefthanded hitter whose approach drew comparisons with gap-hitter Lyle Overbay at the Winter Meetings.

Miranda, 27, spent limited time in the majors the last three seasons, batting .253/.330/.458 in 46 games with the Yankees while showing some pop in his brief stays. He had two doubles, a triple and three home runs in 64 at-bats in 2010 while being used both at first base and as DH.

A Cuban émigré who signed a major league deal with the Yankees in December 2006, Miranda hit .287/.367/.478 while spending the last three seasons at Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. He has no minor league options remaining, so he must pass through waivers before he can be sent back to Triple-A.

Snake Bites

• Brandon Allen appears to be the Diamondbacks' other main candidate at first base, though free agent signee Xavier Nady adds insurance. Allen acquitted himself well in his first trial in left field last season, and that is an option. Nady is expected to be the starting left fielder, and Gerardo Parra could play there, too.

• Former major league outfielder Turner Ward will make his managerial debut at Double-A Mobile in 2011 after being promoted from hitting coach, his position the last three seasons. Other Mobile staffers will be pitching coach Dan Carlson, there for the second straight year, and hitting coach Alan Zinter. Zinter was promoted from high Clas A Visalia, where he was the hitting coach for the last two seasons.