"I wrote in my letter if they weren't in shape they would have a tough spring, and if they were in shape they'd have a tough spring."
-- Kirk Gibson
We did it, folks. Another long, dark winter has been seen off, with only the MLB Network, the SnakePit and a box-set of the 2001 World Series to sustain us. It was tough, but we hung in there, and made it through. The 2012 season is officially...well, if not quite under way, it's definitely approaching, in a way that it wasn't yesterday.
Of course, it's very much a "soft opening", so there's a bit of a sense like waking up on Christmas morning, and finding that you've got a receipt for a pony to be named later. The Joe Saunders pic at the top of the article was actually taken on Thursday, and if you've been following the players on Twitter, you'll know that a good number have been hanging out at Salt River Field during the winter, getting their work in. So, there really isn't too much to talk about here as yet. with the emphasis very much on the word "report." There weren't any actual workouts taking place, so hopefully you didn't head over to SRF to see your favorites in action.
As Nick Piecoro noted at about 9:20 am, "It must be a Sunday report day: Media outnumber players 17 to 3 in the Salt River Fields clubhouse." Part of that might have been the enhanced presence of the Japanese media, there to cover new D-back Takashi Saito, who was reported to be the first to arrive this morning. However, reporting wasn't actually mandatory for most players, and that seems to have included Daniel Hudson, who appears to have spent Sunday watching Major League with Dave Winfree! However, Kirk Gibson was in the house speaking to media, and there were some nuggets of interest there.
Probably the most notable thing is that tomorrow will see Stephen Drew taking ground-balls for the first time since the unfortunate accident which ended his 2011 campaign. For obvious reasons, he'll be under close scrutiny by Gibson and the rest of the training staff, and may give us some - albeit very preliminary - indication whether or not he'll be able to become part of the Opening Day roster. However, Gibson also said he hadn't spoken to Gerardo Parra yet about the acquisition of Jason Kubel and what this means for our gold-glover. He did indicate a desire to see Parra become more adept at playing center-field. Hmmm...
Based on Gibson's other comments, certainly sounds like the 2012 version is going to be another camp that stresses fundamentals, and will focus both on the basics and the winning mindset developed by the team over the course of last season. Hey, why change what clearly worked last time?
"We need to leave less margin for error. If we can do the things we talk about more consistently, we will be better. What we did last year was good, but obviously it wasn't good enough. And we have to get better. We'll come out here this spring, and we're going to work very hard. We're going to work on a lot of the same things we worked on last year, plus some. And we're going to make sure that we have a team that doesn't complain about it, and cherish what we do again."
Finally, those for whom the day is a novelty, are understandably perhaps the most excited about it all. Here's a selection of Tweets from the new guys about P&CR-day.
Successfully reported to my first spring training. What a surreal feeling— Trevor Bauer (@BauerOutage) February 19, 2012
I'm just a small town kid with big time dreams! My road to the Show starts today!— Archie Bradley (@ArchieBradley7) February 19, 2012
About to board a plane heading to spring training.. can't wait to get started. Waited my whole life for this..— Adam Eaton (@AdamSpankyEaton) February 19, 2012
I can't even begin to imagine how exciting this must be for everyone involved. As the D-backs pointed out, "This time last year, no one knew Goldy, Collmenter or Shaw." Could one of this trio break through in 2012? It's delicious possibilities like that, that are the icing on the cake which is going into spring training with the teams as reigning division champions.
Tomorrow, the work starts in earnest: physicals in the morning, and the first on-field sessions around 1pm...