[All photos by Rich Pilling/Getty Images] It wasn't the best of games for the D-backs yesterday - but, hey, that's why we have spring training. And it's still baseball, right? Here are some pics from the Cactus League opener at Salt River Fields, and a round-up of the other news of the day.
- "I felt good and threw the ball really well. I thought I set the bar. I threw a lot of strikes. The error didn't really help. I just rushed it a bit but overall it went really well."
-- Tyler Skaggs
- "He came out and threw strikes and that's what we asked him to do. He threw the ball well. He made trouble for himself. The game management stuff is part of what he has to understand and what the team has to understand as well."
-- Kirk Gibson
- "It was fun going out there, pitching again, I love pitching... Been working on keeping the ball down. I feel like I executed my pitches the way I needed to. This is a stepping stone. Next time it will be a little bit better."
-- Heath Bell
- "He managed that inning very good. He gets a couple of guys on, nice executed pitch breaking down and away and gets the double play and gets out of the inning. That's what we're looking for."
Absence of starters
If you're wondering why we won't be seeing any of the likely "regular" starters, e.g. Ian Kennedy, Trevor Cahill, Brandon McCarthy and Wade Miley, until the middle of next week, it's a result of spring training being extra-long this year, due to the World Baseball Classic. That has added an extra week of games, but Gibson wanted to avoid over-taxing his pitchers, so this way, they'll still get the usual six starts in the pre-season, and be ready to go come Opening Day - and hopefully, also pitching strong into September. However, not quite sure how they'll then fit in the three candidates for the fifth spot: will it be a seven-man rotation for now? We'll see.
For Whom The Bell Tolls
More on Bell over at Fox Sports Arizona, where Jack Magruder writes about our new reliever. Stuff I learned from there, includes the fact that Bell almost joined the Marines, but his father encouraged him to stay in school and become the first member of his family to graduate from college. Said Bell, " I'm not going to talk about last year, but I just got away from little things. This year I have really been focusing on taking the bull by the horns rather than relying on people. Because if I go out there and rely on myself and I fail, then I have nobody to blame but myself. But if I rely on somebody else, I have somebody to blame."
Millionth visitor comes through Salt River Fields gates
To no-one's surprise, the Opening Day game between the D-backs and Rockies was announced as a sellout, for the third consecutive year. It also brought the overall tally for the complex in to seven figures, including all ticketed events the park including concerts, festivals and Spring Training games. However, I find it somewhat curious that the "sellout" crowd of 11,576, was actually less than the Diamondbacks' average spring crowd last year, at 11,677. Still, with the extra slate of games, it seems almost a certainty that SRF will set another new attendance record for a two-team complex, surpassing the mark of 369,393, from last season.
Around the Cactus League
Yesterday was actually the second day of play, six teams having got an early jump, starting their schedules Friday. In Saturday's action. Ryan Braun homered in his first at-bat of spring, and the Brewers beat the A's, 2-1 - Chris Young made his Oakland debut, striking out with the bases loaded in the first inning... The Reds and Indians combined for 23 runs on 35 hits and nine walks in Goodyear, Ryan Raburn homering twice for Cleveland and driving in four, as they beat Cincinnati 13-10. But Clayton Kershaw was unimpressive in his spring debut, allowing four hits and two runs in two innings, as the White Sox blanked the Dodgers on three hits, winning 9-0 at Camelback Ranch.