For the past couple of months, I've opened up my Google Reader page to hear crickets chirping and tumbleweeds rolling across the screen. But with all our pitchers and catcher now reporting, and the imminent arrival of everyone else, the silence is broken, and there is genuine information coming out of the team. So, I figure it's time to start ramping up the SnakePit coverage, as we head towards Opening Day (of Cactus League play, at the very least!). After the jump, we'll cover the latest reports to come out of SRF@TS.
Let's start with the good news. Clay Zavada has decided against retirement, and is expected to arrive at camp and start working out with the other pitchers today. Steve Gilbert reports that, while Zavada had a sore arm, according to his agent, "He just needed a couple of days to figure out what was going on with his shoulder." Nick Piecoro raises a quizzical eyebrow at this, saying "You’d think you’d want to be around the training staff to deal with an injury, but whatever. The important thing is that he’ll be back." Of course, Clay is still going to have an uphill battle to make the team, but if you aren't in the game, you...won't be in the game. That was kinda weak. Let's move on.
So, are we interested in Michael Young? Ken Rosenthal of FoxSports.com mentioned Arizona as a possible landing place for the disgruntled Rangers infielder. However, there are a number of major road-blocks - not least that Young would need to approve any move to the Diamondbacks. The Rangers are also currently "telling teams that they do not want to include much cash in the deal," which would seem to be a major issue, as the 34-year old is owed $16 million for each of the next three seasons. That would seem too much for Arizona to handle - and even if we did have, say, $10 million per year to spend, would Young be the best place to spend it?
Those closer to the team than Rosenthal tend to agree, and don't think there's much chance of the team picking up Young. Piecoro says: "The Diamondbacks not only aren’t one player away from contention, they aren’t at a point where they should be giving up any minor league talent. So unless the Rangers want to pick up a huge portion of Young’s salary and don’t want anything in return, it doesn’t make sense to me for the Diamondbacks to engage." Gilbert adds that we "expressed interest in acquiring infielder Michael Young after he initially requested a trade, but they have not engaged the Rangers in talks recently."
The same piece from Nick notes that Micah Owings' "quest to be a two-way player has officially begun." Our transforming pitcher-1B-Autobot [I think we should start calling him Micah Optimus] took batting practice and fielded ground-balls yesterday, after having thrown a bullpen session on Monday. It certainly sounds like he can still hit, Kevin Towers saying, "He had some people scattering there beyond the left field fence. He’s a pretty impressive athlete. The ball has a different sound when it comes off his bat."
But if he's going to make the team, it will be as a pitcher, since there are at least three people - Juan Miranda, Brandon Allen and Xavier Nady - ahead of him on the team depth chart at first. Steve Gilbert notes the same thing, stating that Micah's "value to the D-backs is directly proportional to his value in the bullpen." Greg Salvatore quotes Kirk Gibson as saying, "First and foremost, I want him to have value as a pitcher. The other is a bonus... If he can play some first base, he's going to get some innings at first base in Spring Training. Maybe he'll go in and play an inning at first at the end of the game. He gives us flexibility. He's got great power and he wants to hit."
Video of Owings' bullpen, shot by Nick Piecoro
Salvatore also reports that veteran pitchers Mike Fetters and Ed Vosberg were on the mound at SRF@TS. Don't worry, it's not Towers loading up on more veteran presence, they were there to help our younger hurlers improve their pick-off moves. Gibson said, "Those guys were very good. They understood it, it was an important part of their game and consequently they became very good at it. We know it can't be a weapon for everybody, but is there one guy or two guys or five guys? We're on the pitchers' side of it now, but when our infielders get here, they're going to have to be very communicative as well. It takes some communication from everybody on the infield."
Interesting quote from Miguel Montero via Steve Gilbert, concerning the likely changes in the clubhouse under Cap'n Kirk. "The last two years we've been losing 90 games, and it seems like nothing happened. I don't think that is going to happen again. If we lose again, everybody is going to know that we lost a game. I think that's what it means. And I like that idea, because I hate to lose. Period." I've said it before, and I'll say it again: I don't know what Gibby does to the players, but he certainly strikes the fear of god into me.
Finally, if you're heading to SRF@TS, looking for some signatures, Gilbert adds "We've been told that players will be signing autographs each day around 11:50 a.m. local time. The club has gone out of its way to make sure fans are able to get up close with the players on the pathways between the fields." Piecoro reports that the front-office and manager are in agreement on the importance of this, Gibson saying "They’ll sign every day. When the catchers are done, they’ll sign. That’s something that’s important... It really is important. As good as times are right now, I went through five work stoppages. The last one was 1994 and I remember how the game was after that"