Results tagged ‘ Diamondbacks ’

2/6/14: A few thoughts

A few thoughts from report day…

– They really shouldn’t call it report day, because the pitchers and catchers don’t actually have to show up at Salt River Fields. They simply need to check in to say they are in town.

In addition, almost all the guys — even position players — have been working out at the complex for days if not weeks.

– Speaking of which, the quote of the day on that subject came from pitcher Brandon McCarthy: “It’s just good because in the last month is when you start to hit that boredom point of you’re done with the offseason, you’re sick of your loved ones, you want to get out of your house, you kind of want to get back at some competitive outlet.”

– And while we’re on the subject of McCarthy, his comments about the determination in the clubhouse this spring really jumped out at me. You can read them here.

Look every team sounds optimistic during Spring Training especially early in camp, but this sounded different, there was an intensity and specificity about what needed to change that caught my attention.

Maybe it means nothing, but in listening to McCarthy and then to manager Kirk Gibson later, it seemed like things are quite different than they were last year.

Here’s a link to today’s notebook with information on the closer competition, Mark Trumbo’s signing and Henry Blanco.

– The D-backs will go out to stretch and begin Friday’s first workout at 9:30 and they will be on the field until close to noon.

– All spring long workouts are free and open to the public. Fans can park in the Desert Parking Lot.

– For photos, schedule updates and news throughout the spring, follow me on Twitter.

44 days until opener in Sydney
53 days until opener vs. Giants at Chase Field
234 days until the end of the 2014 regular season

What to expect today

Today is report day for D-backs pitchers and catchers so I wanted to give a quick rundown of what you can expect today on the site and at the ballpark:

Pitchers and catchers will  not necessarily be there today: Report day is a bit misleading, because all players have to do to “report” is to call the organization and let it know they are in town. Pitchers and catchers don’t have to be at the ballpark until Friday when the workouts start.

Nothing to see here: That means there’s a good chance there won’t be any activities out on the fields. Now, that being said, there are players who have been working out at the complex for months so I’m not sure if they will be there or not, but your best bet is to come out Friday.

Site content today: They will open the clubhouse to the media mid-morning today, but there is no guarantee there will be any players to talk to. However, Kirk Gibson will be meeting with us at 11 a.m. so you can check back this afternoon for his thoughts as camp opens.

Arroyo watch: As always, we’ll be on top of whatever breaking news there is throughout the day. The D-backs are planning on meeting with Arroyo (not sure when) but it’s something we’ll keep an eye out today and going forward.

Workout times this spring: I will try and have the blog updated daily during the spring, but your best bet for staying on top workout times and any changes to them will be to follow me on twitter.

Spring Training preview: Here’s my preview of the D-backs as they head into Spring Training.

 

Angels and Padres among those teams intersted in Kennedy

ST. PETERSBURGH — You can count the Angels and Padres among the teams interested in D-backs right-hander Ian Kennedy according to a baseball source.

Kennedy is scheduled to start tonight’s game against the Rays and how serious the trade talks are involving him could become clear as he would be scratched if something were imminent.

ESPN’s Buster Olney reported that the Cubs could also be a possible destination for Kennedy.

Both the Angels and Padres have people in their organization who have a history with Kennedy. Padres GM Josh Byrnes traded for Kennedy when he was GM of the D-backs and Angels GM Jerry Dipoto was interim GM of the D-backs during Kennedy’s time there and was assistant GM in Arizona when Kennedy won 21 games in 2011.

– Steve Gilbert

Why I went to work Tuesday

I got the news when I was 35,000 feet up in the air on my way to New York. On my way to a big series with the Yankees, because every series in the ballpark in the Bronx feels big.

Headline: Explosions near the finish line of the Boston Marathon.

Suddenly the series with the Yankees felt small.

Watching the news coverage that night in my hotel room I couldn’t get my mind around it. Three people dead, one of them an 8-year-old, whose 6-year-old sister lost her leg in the explosion. Lives shattered, ripped apart.

The questions begin to fly through the mind — How does this happen? How could someone do such a thing? — and then heart aches for the people killed and the loved ones who are left behind to try and somehow pick up the pieces.

And so I woke up Tuesday and wondered. Why go to the ballpark tonight? For a baseball game? Who cares?

View from the press box during Tuesday's D-backs-Yankees game.

View from the press box during Tuesday’s D-backs-Yankees game.

And then I thought of Jack, as passionate a baseball fan as there is. He lives in China now, but he still follows the D-backs staying up late (or is it getting up early?) to watch their games. He needs these games to stay connected to his home to stay connected to his country.

There’s Jenny in San Francisco, her body confined to a wheelchair, but her passion for the game knowing no limits. She’s always got questions about why certain decisions are made and somebody needs to get the answers.

There’s Lubo here in New York. Sure he says he’s sworn off the D-backs since the Justin Upton trade, but judging by his interest level I have my doubts about that.

And there’s a 9-year-old in Phoenix, who is trying to make sense of what he sees on the news. He loves when I send pictures of the ballparks I visit. I can’t disappoint him.

I could go on and on.

But it reminds me again of baseball’s importance. Not because the games in and of themselves mean anything, but because of what they provide people — a way of dealing with the stresses and sometimes tragedies in their own lives.
I go to the ballpark and I talk with pitcher Ian Kennedy, who heard about the Boston bombings when his wife, Allison, called him.

“My thoughts and prayers are really, really with them,” Kennedy told me. “Allison and I prayed for them. It was all we could do.”

But it’s not all he will do, not really.

He went through his between-start routine Tuesday. He will do so again Wednesday and Thursday. There will be video study as well and scouting reports to pore over. And then, Friday, he will take the mound at Coors Field against the Rockies and give everything he has in pursuit of a victory.

Why? Because it will mean something to baseball fans. It will mean something to someone who drafted him on his Fantasy League team. Because it could bring a smile to someone’s face somewhere. Because it is a gift to be able to throw the ball like he does so he will share it with the rest of the world.

I can’t throw the ball like he can, but I have the privilege of access to places that fans cannot go. It is my job to be your eyes and ears and to provide you with information and make you smile.

No, it’s not as important as the emergency workers, who rushed to help the victims Monday. It’s not as vital as the runners, who continued to run to local Boston hospitals to donate blood in the aftermath.

But it’s my role, it’s my contribution, my one stitch in the fabric that makes up this country. It’s what I have to give and so I treat it as though it is important.

That’s why I went to work Tuesday.

And why I will again today.

Thanks for reading.

Happy Opening Day

Happy Opening Day, or in the case of the D-backs, Happy Opening Night.

I’m going to try and do a better job of keeping this blog going during this season. While there will be baseball stuff on it, it will also be a chronicle of life on the road and some personal observations. As always, your feedback is always welcome. Feel free to drop me an email at steve.gilbert@mlb.com.

Day or night, there is something special about the opener. Every team can seemingly convince themselves that maybe, just maybe, they will be the one left standing in October. Everything is fresh and anything seems possible.

Opening Day was always a holiday in the Gilbert house when I was growing up. My parents would allow me to miss school and we would head to Wrigley Field to watch the Cubs. Those outings with my father, who passed away in 2004, are some of my most treasured memories.

There are plenty of things to keep an eye on this year for D-backs fans. Here are a few things that I’ll be interesting to watch:

– How will they handle the loss of Adam Eaton?
Losing Eaton for the first eight weeks or so of the season is a real blow. This was a guy they built their offense around having at the top of the lineup.
– Is the bullpen as good as we think it is?
J.J. Putz, David Hernandez, Heath Bell and Brad Ziegler at the back end with a pair of lefties in Tony Sipp and Matt Reynolds along with the versatile Josh Collmenter seems — on paper at least — to be one of the better pens in the league.
– Will they score enough runs?
No Justin Upton, Chris Young, or Stephen Drew. The team has made a decision to move away from reliance on the home run and towards a more contact-oriented lineup. Will they still score enough runs?

I could go on and on — Paul Goldschmidt’s development, does Trevor Cahill’s improved conditioning help him on the mound? — but you get the idea.

Remember you can follow me on Twitter.

Saunders wants to stay with D-backs

Spoke with D-backs lefty Joe Saunders this morning who said he’s still hopeful of returning to the team. Saunders is eligible for salary arbitration and could command a salary of between $8 million to $9 million. The team seems interested in signing him to a two-year deal more so than paying what it would cost to go through arbitration with him.

“I do want to stay here,” Saunders said. “It’s just a matter of if the D-backs want to bring me back.”

The D-backs have until Dec. 12 to tender Saunders. If they decide to non-tender him he would become a free agent.

– Steve Gilbert

Matt Williams suffers broken foot

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — D-backs third base coach Matt Williams said he has a broken right foot, the result of being hit by a ball during a soft toss drill.

Williams was spotted limping between practice fields Wednesday with a walking boot on his right leg.

The incident occurred he said a couple of days ago. How long it will prevent him from coaching third base is unknown.

This will be Williams first year coaching third base in the Majors.

Gibson talks about rules, roster

28 days until Opening Day

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Kirk Gibson had a lot of really interesting things to say during his media sessions with us Thursday in Peoria that I didn’t have a place for in my stories. Here’s some of what he had to say…

– On whether guys were starting to make a push for spots on the roster: “The book is just starting. I don’t think we’re close to a point where we could even make a good calculated decision.”

– There has been a lot of talk this spring and even over the winter about Gibson’s rules about cell phone use and the banning of pellet guns and the like in the clubhouse.

It seems to be a subject that Gibson is getting tired of revisiting.

“I don’t think I’ve been tough at all,” he said of his rules. “I think I’ve been fair. We just kind of said there are certain things we want to abide by and do. It’s not a big deal, it’s just like business as usual.”

Gibson also has emphasized that the rules were decided on after consultation with managing general partner Ken Kendrick, president/CEO Derrick Hall, GM Kevin Towers and his coaching staff.

“These are not just my rules,” Gibson said. “We sat down as an organization and talked about some important things. We had a lot of conversations, people had input and we sat there and said this is what we’re going to go with. Once the decision was made we moved on.”

It doesn’t sound like guys will be having their cell phones ringing in the clubhouse.

“You’re talking to somebody in the clubhouse, your phone rings and you go get it, I think it’s rude No. 1,” Gibson said. “Other people are having a conversation next to you and phones are going off, I don’t like it. It just gets to be too much for me. When we’re in here it’s pretty much a baseball environment let’s focus on that if you need to make a call just walk outside and make a call.”

– As much as Gibson has refrained from talking about the past, he did let a little slip near the end of his talk about rules and cell phones when he talked about preparing for games differently: “We definitely need to do a better job because the way we did do it sure in the heck didn’t work.”

– Sparky Anderson was obviously a big influence on Gibson and he quoted him when talking about privileges for his players.

“Sparky taught us a long time ago, you start with nothing and you earn everything,” he said.

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Looks like Zach Duke will pitch down in Tucson during Monday’s split squad game with Aaron Heilman working the game against the Royals in Surprise.

Wednesday notes — Heilman could make things interesting

30 days until Opening Day

A couple of random thoughts as I sit in the press box at Scottsdale Stadium waiting for the start of the second game of this split-squad, day-night doubleheader…

– Aaron Heilman could really make the decisions about the backend of the rotation very interesting.

It’s been widely assumed that Zach Duke and Armando Galarraga have the inside track for the final two spots with Barry Enright and Heilman on the outside looking in. That’s simply because of the money owed to Duke and the fact that Enright has Minor League options and Heilman could easily slide back into the bullpen.

But Heilman signed here because he was promised a fair shot at the rotation and if he keeps putting up zeroes (he threw three perfect innings today to run his spring total to five) it is going to be tough to deny him that.

– D-backs manager Kirk Gibson has maintained that first baseman Paul Goldschmidt is “in the mix” at first base, but it has been hard to believe that the organization would rush him like that given that he has not played above the Class A level.

Gibson came close to admitting just that today after Goldschmidt pinch-hit and drove in two more runs with a single.

“Probably not,” Gibson said about the likelihood of Goldschmidt making the club out of Spring Training. “But I don’t really look at it that way. I look at it that we’re trying to develop depth as well. We can’t predict what may happen, who might get hurt. If there’s some guys that go back to the Minor Leagues from here we want them to have great confidence, we want them to shore their game up. We want them to know how we want to do it up here, the things that are important to the Diamondbacks and go down there and be leaders. People can move fast.”

Certainly Goldschmidt has opened some eyes with his strong showing thus far.

“From the first day I saw him swing he’s made several adjustments,” Gibson said. “His swing is shorter and he’s staying on the ball. We’ll see if he can do it all spring.”

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D-backs will finally leave the City of Scottsdale for a game Thursday when they travel to Peoria to take on the Padres. I’ll catch up with you there.

Happy Monday morning

After rain the last couple of days it looks like it is shaping up to be a beautiful day here at Salt River Fields.

Morning photo 2-21.JPG

Some leftover items from the soggy weekend:

– It was pretty funny to hear GM Kevin Towers greet newly-signed first baseman Russell Branyan not by his name, but as “Russell the Muscle.”

And while Branyan is big, he looks almost small compared to outfielder Wily Mo Pena.

Pena is listed at 270 pounds, but that might be a little light. A number of the guys were telling me I had to go shake his hand just for the experience of it and wow. Your hand completely disappears in his and his grip is like a vice.

“Unbelievable,” is how one player described him.

– Following Saturday’s first full-squad meeting, D-backs team president/CEO Derrick Hall said several of the new veterans pulled he and Ken Kendrick aside to share a couple of thoughts with them.

“These guys are telling Ken and I, ‘We’re going to make a difference, this is going to different, this is where we wanted to be and there’s a reason for that,’” Hall said.

One of the veterans brought over during the winter was infielder Geoff Blum.

“There’s a lot of us in here that are new so we don’t know what was going on the last two years and that might be a good thing,” Blum said. “From the outside looking in the last couple of years we’ve always noticed they had a ton of talent, but obviously from the comments that are being made, the clubhouse atmosphere had to be changed so we’ll what we can do.”

– The main word around camp this year is competition, but there’s another that’s close behind: Swagger.

“We talked about swagger quite a bit,” Hall said of that first meeting. “We want this [the team's logo] to mean something. The last couple years this hasn’t meant much and we want it to mean something so we have to reestablish that.”

And then there was manager Kirk Gibson during his press briefing Sunday.

“It was a good day, I like the vibe, I like the swagger,” he said.

Sounds like the goal is to swagger through some competition while changing the culture…

– I asked bullpen coach Glenn Sherlock for some time this morning and he said he couldn’t because he had an Air Force meeting.

Turns out it was actually a pop up drill he does with the team’s catchers. That’s the nickname he has given to it.

What about when he does tag play drills? Those are listed on the schedule as a Marine meeting.

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