PHOENIX -- When Spring Training began nearly two months ago, Alfredo Marte never imagined he'd make the D-backs' Opening Day roster. The proposition seemed even more unimaginable when the club optioned him to Triple-A Reno on March 15.
But after outfielders Adam Eaton and Cody Ross were injured, Marte was brought back to big league camp and given a golden opportunity to compete with Tony Campana for a final roster spot, and the 24-year-old took advantage.
Now, two weeks after winning the job, the native of the Dominican Republic added to his improbable start to 2013 by making his Major League debut Tuesday against the Cardinals.
"You just keep playing hard and see what happens with the opportunity," said Marte through a translator. "It's very emotional for me."
Manager Kirk Gibson slotted him in left field, batting sixth. Marte hit .294 with Double-A Mobile last season, hitting 20 homers with 75 RBIs.
"I'm just going to play hard and see how it goes," Marte said. "I'm hoping I can help the team with hitting or maybe on defense, but whatever I do, I'm going to try to support the team."
This spring marked the first time the D-backs invited Marte to their big league camp, and it seemed to motivate the outfielder, who made big strides in a short period of time. He hit three long balls and drove in six runs in 47 Cactus League at-bats.
"He came a long way," Gibson said. "He's really paid attention and been open-minded to try to learn things to become a better player.
"You could see an evolvement with him, he swung a lot early in at-bats early in Spring Training then became more patient when he started to understand what was going on. He's got a good future for us."
Gibby leaves leadoff role in Parra's hands
PHOENIX -- D-backs manager Kirk Gibson penciled Gerardo Parra in the leadoff spot for the second consecutive game on Tuesday, and said the outfielder will likely keep that role at least until either Willie Bloomquist or Adam Eaton returns from injury.
Parra, who is a .310 career hitter batting first, tied a career-high with four hits in Monday night's 6-2 win over the Cardinals.
"It'll be hard to take him out of there if he keeps playing that way," Gibson said. "He's worked hard, and here he is today. He had a great game for us."
Parra's improvement in his approach at the plate over the past few seasons gives Gibson the confidence to slot him higher in the lineup.
"We started him down batting eighth, where it taught him to be selective because the pitcher was behind him," Gibson said. "He wasn't very selective when he first came up, but now he's evolved up to the one-hole. He sets the tone. He's done a good job, and it'll be interesting to see if he can sustain it for the whole year."
A.J. Pollock, who has hit leadoff in 11 of his 33 career games, is another option at the top of the lineup, but Martin Prado is not. Gibson ruled out Prado, saying he prefers the third baseman in the two-hole.
Kubel rests troublesome left leg
PHOENIX -- Less than 24 hours after Jason Kubel collected two hits and drove in the first run of the season in the D-backs' 6-2 Opening Day win over the Cardinals, the club gave the left fielder Tuesday off to rest his left leg, which bothered him at times during Spring Training.
He fought through soreness in his left knee throughout camp, then twisted his ankle on the same leg on March 26.
"Kubel had been a little bit gimpy on and off in the spring, so it just kind of makes sense," D-backs manager Kirk Gibson said. "I thought he had a good productive day yesterday, and he'll be good off the bench if we need him. He'll be back in there tomorrow, I'd expect."
Gibson also mentioned Kubel's second-half slump last season, when he hit just .201 after the All-Star break, as another reason he wants to ease the 30-year-old's early workload.
Kubel struggled at the plate as well during camp, batting .156 in 45 spring at-bats, but he said he didn't read too much into those results, instead focusing on sharpening his approach and getting healthy for the regular season.
"I could care less about Spring Training," he said. "It's not even remotely the same feeling during those games. You're just getting ready and it ended up helping me out for yesterday. I felt pretty relaxed at the plate."
Kubel said playing nine innings didn't bother him at all, and the training staff continues to do a good job working on his leg.
Kubel led the D-backs in home runs (30) and RBIs (90) last year in his first season with the club.
• On the 15-day disabled list with a strained right elbow, D-backs shortstop prospect Didi Gregorius will join Triple-A Reno when its season begins on Thursday. Initially, Gregorius will only pinch-hit and DH, but the D-backs hope by April 15 he'll be able to play defense and begin building up innings.
• Mixed in with the likes of "Baba O'Riley" and "Fight for Your Right," there was one walk-up song Monday night for the D-backs that seemed to stand out from the rest. When batting, club ace Ian Kennedy came out to Taylor Swift's "I Knew You Were Trouble," a somewhat unusual pick for a 28-year-old baseball player.
As it turns out, Kennedy asked D-backs president Derrick Hall's young daughter, Kylie, to pick out a song for him, and she chose the Swift hit.
Tyler Emerick is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.