As Chris Owings competes for the Diamondbacks' starting shortstop position, he draws added strength from a study of perseverance that hits close to home.

Owings' younger brother, Connor, was diagnosed with severe kidney disease in 2012 when doctors discovered that one of his kidneys was smaller than the other and basically not functioning, leading to stress on the other. A candidate for a kidney transplant, Connor has maintained his health and is managing his symptoms through diet, hydration and rest while continuing his baseball career. A junior first baseman at Coastal Carolina, Connor went 3 for 5 as the leadoff hitter in the first game of the Chanticleers' season Saturday while Chris followed along on the computer. The two talked that night and again Sunday morning.

"He's doing well. He's pushing strong. He just has to maintain when he is at right now until that time (a kidney transplant) comes," Owings said. "He's a battler. He's a strong kid. He does the right things."

The Owings' mother, Sherri, is going through the lengthy process required to determine if she is a potential kidney donor match. Meanwhile, the family pushes on. And like Noel Elliott, who in 1999 donated a kidney to his younger brother, NBA star Sean Elliott, Chris Owings also is a willing candidate.

"He's my brother, and if that's what needs to happen, that's what is going to happen," Chris said Sunday.

Owings and Didi Gregorius are battling for the Diamondbacks' only regular job available, and general manager Kevin Towers said one will be the full-time starter and the other likely will start the season at Class AAA in order to play every day. Cliff Pennington is set to provide reserve strength at both middle infield positions. On the first day of camp, Towers called the 24-year-old Gregorius the favorite, but it seems clear that the job is wide-open.