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Diamondbacks Spring Training Round-Up: Game Time!

We move from meaningless pre-season practice to meaningless pre-season contests today, with Salt River Fields hosting Arizona's first game of the Cactus League this afternoon. Over/under on how long before we'll be fed up? March 12.

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Josh Booty with Tom Candiotti
Josh Booty with Tom Candiotti
Arizona Diamondbacks

Line-ups announced for first two games

Here's who'll be appearing for the Diamondbacks on Saturday and Sunday, as we take on the Rockies.

Saturday Sunday
1. Willie Bloomquist, SS Adam Eaton, CF
2. Gerardo Parra, CF Martin Prado, DH
3. Martin Prado, 3B Aaron Hill, 2B
4. Paul Goldschmidt, 1B Jason Kubel, LF
5. Miguel Montero, C Cody Ross, RF
6. Eric Hinske, DH Eric Chavez, 3B
7. A.J. Pollock, LF Eric Hinske, 1B
8. Brad Snyder,. RF Wil Nieves, C
9. John McDonald, 2B Cliff Pennington, SS
SP. Tyler Skaggs, LHP Patrick Corbin, LHP

I'd take Sunday's offense as probably being more likely to score runs. Whaddya reckon? It is definitely odd to see a pair of Diamondbacks line-ups, without Justin Upton, Stephen Drew or Chris Young present in them. When was the last time that happened? Both games are being broadcast on KTAR, and I imagine we'll probably run a Gameday Thread, so we can follow along while we still have the first flush of enthusiasm...

Baserunning? It's a secret

It's not really confidential that we were a liability on the basepaths last year. By Fangraphs's Baserunning Runs metric, AZ ranked 24th in the majors, compared to 13th the previous season. But Nick Piecoro writes, manager Kirk Gibson is remaining vague on what might be different this year: "I’m not going to go into detail, but there were some red flags that went up. We have to change that. Again, you just wouldn’t understand because I just can’t tell you what I’d like to do. It wouldn’t be smart to have you write about it because we’re going to play somebody on April 1. I know what I want to do and how I want to do it." Something involving Willie Bloomquist and a nail-gun perhaps?

Insert "Booty" pun here...

I hadn't realized that our new knuckleball pitcher actually had major-league experience, having appeared in 13 games over parts of three seasons as a third baseman with the Marlins, from 1996-98. Josh Booty was a first-round pick in 1994, selected ahead of the likes of Nomar Garciaparra, Paul Konerko and Jason Varitek, though obviously did not live up to that promise. He went 7-for-26, so on that basis (even if was 15 or more years ago!) he should at least continue the tradition of decent-hitting Diamondbacks pitchers. But can he pitch? That remains to be seen...

He does seem to be able to throw, which is slightly different. Tom Candiotti said of Booty, "He's got the best fastball of any knuckleballer I've ever seen. He can flat out throw it." with the pitcher estimated to be getting close to 90 mph. It's also perhaps worth noting that the show was taped a while ago. Booty said, "I know my pitching is a lot better now than it was on that show three or four weeks ago. I've come crazy far in three weeks and if I can get another 10-15 opportunities to throw sides, bullpens, work with Charles Nagy, do some things here with Candiotti ... I think the sky would be the limit." Nothing ventured, nothing gained, to be sure.

Berhiaume: "I want the Diamondbacks to win"

New play-by-play guy Steve Berthiaume spoke to KTAR about how he plans to broadcast the game. Interestingly, he doesn't believe there's much point in maintaining a facade of impartiality. "I think the idea that we are there to be bastions of objectivity is stupid and silly and passé. I am a Diamondback employee, I work for the ball club, (and) I am broadcasting to D-backs fans... I want the Diamondbacks to win (just like) the people I am broadcasting to largely want the Diamondbacks to win." However, he added, "It's never going to be the Steve show (and) it's not going to be the Bert and Bob show. It's going to be about the game."

The next non-knuckler?

Interesting story in the minors, where pitcher Bobby Hillier signed a minor-league contract to play with the Hillsboro Hops, our new Single-A affiliate. What's unusual, is he wasn't a pitcher until his senior year at college, when he broke his hand. Coming back, unable to grip the bat, his coach stuck him on the mound to get playing time. As the story puts it, "That’s when they discovered Hillier could throw 94 mph." And there may be more: "Hillier believes that with the right mechanics and proper instruction, he could hit 98 mph or higher." pointing out that "I’ve only really, technically, been pitching for about two months... I’m now learning the technique and the thought process involved."

Finally: check yourself, before you wreck yourself