LOS ANGELES – For stretches this season, the Diamondbacks’ Chris Owings couldn’t keep the thought from entering his mind, especially on occasions when he’d hit balls hard and have nothing to show for it.

“You can be up here in some of those stretches and it’s just like, ‘Man, am I ever going to get a hit again?’” Owings said. “I felt like I was having good at-bats when I was here. Just the results weren’t there.”

The way he sees it, the best thing to come from the month he spent following a demotion to Triple-A Reno is the realization that, yes, he can still hit and, yes, he hasn’t lost his ability to play the game at the highest level.

“It just kind of reminded me,” he said, “that I’m still a really good baseball player and I’ve got a lot of baseball left to be played.”

With rosters expanding on Saturday, Owings was one of six players to join the Diamondbacks at Dodger Stadium. In 21 games with Reno, he hit .286/.293/.407, results that are fairly pedestrian for the Pacific Coast League yet still qualify as a confidence booster given the way his season had gone prior to that.

In 247 at-bats in the big leagues, Owings hit just .198 with a .555 OPS. For much of the season, he had no answers for his performance, especially as his struggles grew more and more pronounced.

“I felt like before I got sent down, you look at my at-bats, I felt like I was having good games when I was playing,” Owings said. “I was definitely squaring some balls up. This year has been really weird with hitting balls hard but right at guys. It’s been a really unfortunate year.”

His batted-ball data somewhat supports his thinking. On average, he was hitting the ball harder and at a higher launch angle than in years past, both good things for a hitter. His percentage of “barreled” balls – that is, instances when the combination of exit velocity and launch angle tends to lead to hits – was the highest of his career.

Granted, Owings wasn’t scorching balls like Mike Trout. But rather than hitting .198 with a .287 slugging, Statcast data indicated he was more likely to be hitting .222 with a .389 slugging.

“He’s hit into about as bad a luck as I’ve ever (seen from) a hitter,” hitting coach Dave Magadan said a few days before Owings was sent down on Aug. 3. “He’s hit the ball consistently hard, especially over the last month, but really hasn’t had a lot to show for it.”

Owings’ removal from the roster felt like a long time in the making. When the club acquired Jon Jay in an early June trade, Owings’ roster spot looked iffy, at least once the rest of the club’s position players returned to full health. He managed to stick around, in part because of injuries to others, until shortly after the trade deadline, when deals to acquire relievers Brad Ziegler and Jake Diekman created a roster crunch.

Understandably, he said he was upset and disappointed to lose his spot, but after taking three days to regroup, he reported to Reno with a positive attitude, a statement supported by others in the organization.

“I went down there with a fresh mindset,” Owings said. “I think that was the biggest thing, just going down there and playing hard. Not going down there and kind of pouting about it. From that standpoint, I definitely got some use out of it. And it was good to play every day.”

He bounced between second, third and center field, re-acclimating himself with the infield after spending the majority of the season in the outfield. He worked on his swing and his approach at the plate. He rediscovered what he called a “hitter’s mindset.”

On a team with both a crowded infield and outfield, it’s not clear where Owings will fit in this month. Owings doesn’t sound concerned about that. He’s just glad to be back – and in a better frame of mind.

“I’m going to try to fit back in,” he said. “and do whatever I can to help out.”


Reach Piecoro at (602) 444-8680 or [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @nickpiecoro.