Usually, by this time in spring training, I am getting very keen for the actual games to start. This year... Not so much. Probably something to do with a .217 winning percentage: better if we get all those nine-game (and counting) losing streaks out of the way before the season starts, I'd say. It doesn't help that, as far as roster spots go, things are largely no more clear-cut than they were three weeks ago, with the exception of Zach Duke being out of the Opening Day picture. Here's the latest news on that, and after the jump, other stuff.
And, don't forget, this afternoon's game is on the MLB Network, so we'll be GDTing that later.
- [dbacks.com] D-backs still have roster spots up for grabs - Gibson, his coaching staff and Kevin Towers had a lengthy meeting following Wednesday's game, and it sounds like they came away with more questions than answers. "I don't think there's a real consensus at this time," Gibson said. "I'm not sure it's as clear as everyone thinks it is."
- ]The D-blog] Miranda, Branyan & Allen Still Competing for Spot - "With less than three weeks left in Spring Training, the position battle at first base still appears to be wide open for the D-backs."
- [AZCentral] Demel making case for prominent bullpen role - "He's been very impressive this spring training," pitching coach Charles Nagy said. "He's throwing the ball good, in and out to lefties and righties. His cutter has come a long way. He's only thrown it for a short period of time and he can do a lot of things with it."
- [The D-blog] Montero Excels, Heilman Fights for Rotation Spot in Glendale - "I felt like I was settling in out there," Heilman said. "Felt like I could've kept going out there. I didn't feel tired. I felt like the work I put in the offseason has really helped, and put me in a position to compete."
- [AZCentral] Parra making 'more than a push' for outfield job - Is this his breakout year? "He's way stronger," Gibson said. "He's more athletic. He has way better balance. You guys have watched his arm over the years. Who knew where it was going? His throws are outstanding"
Other D-backs News
- [FoxSportsArizona] D-backs' top prospects make big-league impressions - "I’ve been impressed with some of the young kids," said Kevin Towers. "A lot of times the young kids are kind of in awe facing big league players, and our kids have done a great job of holding their own and contributing and performing very well."
- [AZCentral] Can Branyan win Diamondbacks' first-base job? - "Branyan might not be keen on the bench role. "I think I can help a ballclub out as an everyday player or in a platoon situation," he said. "If that's what's offered to me, that's something I'll have to sit down and take a long, hard look at." The minor-league deal he signed includes a clause that allows him to opt out and become a free agent on March 25."
- [USATODAY.com] NCAA, family illness make Joe Saunders sick - Joe Saunders blogs about his illness. "One of the biggest problems I have when I get sick is that I tend to lose weight. I worked hard this offseason to gain a few more pounds before camp opened but lost a lot of it last week. And I enjoy eating, but I guess I'm blessed with a quick metabolism, so it's hard for me to put on the pounds."
- [dbacks.com] D-backs' J.J. Putz encouraged by outing despite results - Well, that makes...ah, one of you. "You know, I actually felt pretty good," Putz said. "The arm felt great. It was just one of those days I just had really no feel at all for any pitch. There are positives to build from this -- building up your pitch count builds arm strength, but unfortunately the results weren't there. I just really had no feel at all
- [AZCentral] More on Paniagua; Skaggs’ start; lineup talk - Nick P speculates on the affair of our Latin prospect snatched by the Evil Empire: "Could he have been taking on an assumed name because he had no way of proving who he really was? Could it have been something more sinister – that he knew he had improved significantly and was now worth more on the open market and realized that if the contract were voided he would stand to benefit?"
- [Yahoo!] Mets release 2B Castillo, still owe him $6 million - "Mets fans never forgave him for dropping a potential game-ending popup by Alex Rodriguez in 2009, a misplay that let the New York Yankees score two runs to win in the bottom of the ninth." But... But... Veteran presence! Watch and learn, Mr. Towers..
- [texasrangers.com] Webb eager to take next step toward return - "Rangers right-hander Brandon Webb threw 62 pitches in a live batting practice session on Thursday and is hoping to graduate to either a simulated or B game soon." Buried in the article, however, is the line, "He believes his velocity will come around." As I recall, he also "believed" he would just skip a start in April 2009...
- [AZCentral] Spring training fans flock to Diamondbacks' new ballpark - "The Cactus League is off to a slow start at the box office. Attendance is off 12% for roughly the first half of the season, compared with a year ago. Attendance is up 74% for the Diamondbacks in their first nine home games through Sunday, and the Rockies have doubled the gate for their first eight games at Salt River Fields."
- [Chicago Breaking Sports] Sox suffering from west side economic blues - On the other hand... "Small crowds on the west side of the Valley are an alarming trend as the White Sox and other neighboring teams try to rebound in the wake of a depressed area. "The opening of the Rockies-Diamondbacks stadiumis definitely pulling people away," Sox chairman Jerry Reinsdorf said... The Glendale area hasn't developed into what the Sox thought when they decided to move from Tucson after the 2008 season"
- [HardballTalk] Leprechaun National Anthem
- "I’m not offended that the Dodgers had a little person in orange face dressed up like a leprechaun to sing the National Anthem before’s yesterday’s game with the Diamondbacks. But the way I see it, you gotta do one of two things here: either cut this kind of silly crap out and go with a taped, respectful orchestral performance of The Star Spangled Banner, or else you gotta stop making us stand up, take our hats off, put our beers down and pretend that this sort of thing is "honoring our nation.""