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Diamondbacks Spring Training Round-Up: Big Unit Is Back

Yesterday was a good day for the D-backs organization. They got a great start from Brandon McCarthy, a legend returned to camp and one of their affiliates did something definitely worthy of respect.

Pinch-hitter Aaron Hill delivers an RBI hit yesterday against the Reds.
Pinch-hitter Aaron Hill delivers an RBI hit yesterday against the Reds.

Post-game quotes

  • "They didn't want to, they had to and he didn't like it. "We played a great National League game and we move on. If he's pissed off about it I don't really give a shit."
    Kirk Gibson, discussing Dusty Baker's insistence on using the DH today. Gibson's refusal led to Baker refusing Gibson's hand at home-plate before the game.
  • "It was a pretty good extension of last time where I felt command-wise I was good. I was able to accomplish everything I wanted to and the results were there, which is always nice. For a spring outing, it was pretty solid."
    -- Brandon McCarthy
  • "I don’t think I’m a complete blubbering idiot up there. I think I have some sort of an idea. I think I can foul pitches off and work counts. I think I see pitches OK. Bunting in major league situations is going to be important to me. I’ve never been asked to do that... The more experience, more and more time, eventually the butterflies go away and you start to get an idea of what you are doing,"
    -- McCarthy, on his ability at the plate

The Return of Randy Johnson

An unexpected visitor showed up at Salt River Fields this morning: the greatest pitcher ever to pull on a D-backs uniform, Randy Johnson, was present. Nick Piecoro reckoned it was the first time the Big Unit had been around the current team, presumably since his somewhat acrimonious departure after the 2008 season. One wonders if this might be a precursor to #51 joining #20 and #42 among the retired numbers on the wall of Chase Field? It's something the team want to do, but now Johnson may be more on board. "I've never not wanted them to do it. I just always thought the timing was more important to me. Just like being here right now, it's the timing."

Needless to say - and quite understandably - the pitchers in camp were almost giddy little schoolgirls to be around a five-time Cy Young winner: witness Tony Sipp posting a pic of him and Randy to his Instagram! "As Trevor Cahill put it, a guy like that comes in, you just kind of stop what you're doing and try to absorb as much information as possible." And prospect Chase Anderson concurred, "You get off throwing a bullpen and there's Randy Johnson standing there. I was like, 'Oh my gosh.' Dream come true. It was awesome," Maybe he'll be back: as Kirk Gibson said, "He's welcome to come out whenever he wants, watch whenever he wants, interject whenever he wants."

Health notes

After leaving yesterday's contest early, Cody Ross was out of the line-up again, and was sent to get an MRI on his calf. While Gibson was still saying there was no real cause for concern, it does seem likely that Ross is going to miss some more games, even in a best-case scenario. Said Gibson, "It’s just tight. Calves can be nagging. I don’t know what the MRI will show, but we’ll be cautious, regardless." The same story reported Adam Eaton as having cleat marks on his upper back, after apparently getting stomped on when the Reds third-baseman came down with a high throw, as Eaton slid in to steal third.

The first cuts are the deepest

Well, for the players concerned, they are, anyway. For the team made its first round of cuts today, reassigning infielder Jon Griffin, right-handed pitchers Warner Madrigal and Evan Marshall and outfielder Jeremy Reed to Minor League camp. Griffin had gone 0-for-6, while Reed hadn't appeared in a game. Madrigal had allowed six hits and three walks in 2.2 innings, and Marshall, as noted earlier, had allowed four earned run in his two innings. The moves mean that Arizona now has 18 non-roster invitees left in camp: six pitchers, five catchers, five infielders and one outfielder.

Around baseball

  • A short program in the Cactus League, with only six games. The A's and Indians both won by the same margin, 13-5, with the latter pounding out 20 hits against the Cubs, scoring in each of the first six innings. Lonnie Chisenhall and Nick Swisher each had three hits, the latter also getting four RBI.
  • Long-toss, as demonstrated by Trevor Bauer, seems to be increasingly popular among the upcoming crop of draft picks. But the article points out that the medical jury is still out as to whether it's a positive or negative influence.
  • Our Double-A affiliate in Mobile, the Bay Bears, have announced they will leave one seat in their stadium forever empty, to honor those who fell in the service of the military. Seat 1, row 1, section 107, has been painted black with the POW/MIA logo, and "will remain unoccupied for all eternity to honor all American soldiers who never returned."