Diamondbacks Spring Training Round-Up: Dampe In Tempe

USA TODAY Sports

The rain may have caused an early end to all Cactus League action, but the World Baseball Classic rolled on, with a pair of games at Chase Field. And the Diamondbacks rookies got to show their team spirit...

Quotes of the day

  • "I looked at the umpire before the game started and said, 'We're really playing this?' ... It was bad. The ball just looked like a dark object. It was so hard to see... I'm glad they stopped it, because someone was going to get hurt and it was probably going to be me."
    --
    Wil Nieves
  • "The conditions were really tough. You worry about guys getting hurt in that situation, but at the same time, you have to learn how to play in it. It was good to see the strikeout. It wasn’t ideal, because Delgado wasn’t ready, so we hurried up and got Ziegler ready like we would in a game. We got a little something out of the day."
    -- Kirk Gibson
  • "She wants me to be clean-shaven all the time. I always disappoint her. We’ll get family pictures and she’ll say, ‘Aren’t you going to shave?’ and I’ll say, ‘I did shave,’ and she’ll say, ‘No, the whole thing.’ Sorry, mom."
    -- Josh Collmenter

  • "I kind of chose the guy that really wanted to be here. The guys that were not only good players but also good people that could in some ways mesh into this group. There's no place for egos in this group, and that's what I was looking for. That's what I'm getting... I believe a lot in energy, positive energy, and I just try to direct that energy in one direction. And these guys have been outstanding."
    -- Italian manager, Marco Mazzieri. [Does the above sound rather...gritty? Still, don't knock what's clearly working!]

WBC Round-up

If enthusiasm in the US appears muted, that doesn't seem to be the case in Japan, where the first round games drew large television audiences - at least, for the games involving the home team. The report says, "Nearly one-third of all televisions on in Japan were tuned in to the Classic, beating out all broadcasts of the 2012 Summer Olympics. The ratings also surpassed all other sporting events televised in the country over the past year, with the exception of World Cup soccer events." Japan also won their opening second-round match, but had to tie things up with two outs in the ninth, before finally beating Chinese Taipei 4-3 in ten innings, a game that lasted over four and a half hours.

In Pool D action, the Italians followed up their surprise win over Mexico with a possibly even larger shock - as much for the size of the margin - in crushing Canada 14-4, a game ended after eight innings by the mercy rule. Chris Collabello, who spent seven years in indy ball before the Twins signed him last year, went 4-for-5 with four RBI, and helped beat a team sporting multiple MVPs. And down in Puerto Rico, the Spanish underdogs managed to keep the home team off the board for eight consecutive innings: unfortunately, they were also shutout, and Puerto Rico had already scored three in the first.

The main event of the day, however, was the battle between USA and Mexico at Chase Field, in front of a noisily-partisan crowd of 44,256 [boosted by the offer of $5 tix if you had a stub from a rained-out Cactus League game], But the United States' efforts to improve on previous lackluster showings in the event got off to a bad start, with Mexico coming out on top, 5-2. The visitors scored twice in the first, and an umpire-reviewed home-run by Adrian Gonzalez doubled the lead in the third. The result leaves Canada and the USA winless in the pool, and if they don't win their next games, their contest on Sunday could be rendered irrelevant in terms of qualifying for the next round.

Give me a D! Give me an I! Give me an A!

If those D-backs rookies who missed out on the RenFair trip thought they'd got off easy, they had another think coming. As the pic above shows, the evil mastermind who is J.J. Putz had a treat in store for them, as the likes of David Holmberg, Tuffy Gosewisch, Chris Owings and Matt Davidson were dispatched to Chaparral High School [where both SnakePit Jr. and the Snakepitette went], to learn a cheer routine. At least they weren't forced into skirts. The best reaction was probably catcher Ed Easley: "I married a cheerleader, so I was familiar with some of the moves. I've never obviously done them before."

But the worst is perhaps yet to come, for the novice cheerleaders will be performing the routine for their team-mates - and, I suspect, a large number of cameras - on the agility field at SRF tomorrow morning. According to Dr. Evil Putz "They're going to put on a little show, and there's an unbelievable surprise ending to the show. One for the ages." I look forward to seeing the video...

Around baseball

  • Chris Young is having to learn a new position with Oakland, but still has feelings for us, bless... "Plenty of emotions came into play. It's tough. I was with Arizona ever since 2006, so to be able to be with a group of guys for that long, you create a bond with that organization. You create a bond with that fan base. And it doesn't just go away in one day just because you were traded."
  • Might there be a "true" World Series down the line? Bud Selig thinks so. "The goal here is to internationalize the sport. This is what we're trying to do. In my judgement if we do it right you won't recognize the sport in a decade. We'll look back on this in retrospect one day and we'll see a sport that is legitimately a worldwide sport. Is this doing what we set out to do? You bet it is."
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