Randy Johnson, season tickets and competition
Busy day in D-backsland today with the club’s first full-squad workout. That meant a long meeting before practice could get underway with various team executives addressing the team.
We got a chance to talk to managing general partner Ken Kendrick and team president and CEO Derrick Hall following the meeting. Below are what they had to say on a variety of topics:
— On former D-backs great Randy Johnson, who announced his retirement last month:
Johnson is scheduled to throw out the first pitch on Opening Day in Seattle this year and Hall was asked if the D-backs had similar plans.
“We plan on doing something [to honor] him,” Hall said. “Definitely a first pitch. We look at having a special night in tribute for him just as we still owe [Luis Gonzalez] one. We’re starting to do just that, to make plans to do something like that for both of them.”
Johnson has a personal services part of his contract to work for the D-backs and Hall said he has had a couple of discussions with Johnson about that.
“The relationship is good,” Hall said. “We’ve had a few conversations. He’s definitely interested and wants to come back and work for us and we both agreed let’s take that first year off and clear your head. It’s been a long, successful career for him and he wants to spend some time with his family and when he’s ready to come back we’re going to find the perfect fit for him.”
— On Season Tickets:
“We’re doing OK,” Hall said. “We’ve added about 2,000 new season ticket holders and that’s really a response to some of the moves that we made. Our renewal was mid-to-upper 70s, which we expected after the tough season and the economy. The feedback that we heard from those fans that couldn’t return was it wasn’t so much about the results of last season it was more so the economy and they want to come back when they can.”
The D-backs were around 15,000 season ticket holders two years ago and with the economic crisis later that year they fell off to 13,000 last year, but rebounded back to around 15,000 this year.
“We want to get to the point where we’re consistently drawing three million [a year], which is an average of 37,000 fans and last year we were still below 30,000 on average,” Hall said. Over two million is where we’re hoping to be next year and I’m confident that we will. “We need to build that [season ticket] base and have it grow so we can have that foundation and get to three million.
— Hinch’s talk with the team before the workout:
Optimism is the watchword of camp this year, but closely behind that is competition. That was one of the points Hinch hit on during his talk to the team.
“Competitiveness is good on a roster,” he said. “There’s plenty of competition for the starting rotation. I think there some guys that have legs up, but over my time in baseball there are guys that have come into camp penciled into the rotation or on the roster that have played their way off. Guys that we are not even talking about could inch their way towards the roster.”
Quote of the day:
Hinch was asked how happy Conor Jackson must be to be healthy after missing most of last season with Valley Fever.
“He’s probably the happiest guy in camp to be back on the field,” Hinch said. “Second to me. I’ll put myself ahead of him.”