New and old faces
It's manager Chip Hale's first spring as a major-league manager, and the same goes for Dave Stewart in his position as GM. Hale's priority: "I wanted to make sure the players are doing it the way we want to create it. We want to create a Diamondback Way." adding, "The process is important, and how we play and how we teach is very important. If we get that down I really, truly believe we can do some special things here." He won't be trying to do it alone, with input from people as diverse as long-time MLB manager Tony La Russa, and pitching legend Randy Johnson. But will all these hands make light work, or spoil the broth?
Peter O'Brien can hit, but...
In his first spring as a Diamondback, catching prospect O'Brien has been making a good impression with his power. Fellow catcher Tuffy Gosewisch said, "I think he's on a different level.. and it's fun to watch. You can hear [it], [the ball] just sounds different coming off his bat. There's a few guys in the game that have that sound, and he's one of them." That was expected. Can he catch, however? O'Brien thinks so. "I feel every time you have a tool that stands out, there's going to be something someone talks about negatively. I've always been an underdog my entire career. I feel comfortable back there. I'm really confident with where I'm at behind the plate."
Yasmany still learning the hot corner
New Cuban and the biggest free-agent signing in team history, Yasmany Tomas, has been learning to play third-base since the beginning of the year. Early signs were hopeful, Chip Hale saying, "I'm very encouraged with what I see with his feet and his hands.. He's got the basics down." However, neutral observers were less impressed, Nick Piecoro writing "Tomas was rough around the edges. He bobbled some balls, misplayed others and at times did not appear to have proper technique." It is probably too early to tell. As Hale put it, "We are really not going to know how good he can be at third until we get in game situations and hitters hitting balls at him."
So far, so healthy
Last spring felt like an episode of General Hospital, players dropping like flies. Touch wood, things have been better. Jeremy Hellickson was pulled off the mound with a rib issue, but it doesn't appear serious, and Paul Goldschmidt reports himself "100% healed." Addison Reed's spring is being delayed by a sore shoulder: while he still hasn't thrown off the mound, he feels on track for Opening Day. David Hernandez might not be ready for then, but Patrick Corbin is "close" to throwing off a mound, which should give us a better idea of the time-frame for his return. Chris Owings is still coming back after his shoulder surgery, and may miss a week of spring games.
The battle for rotation spots
It appears that only Josh Collmenter and Hellickson are locks among our starting pitchers, though there are no shortage of candidates for the other spots. GM Dave Stewart had some strong words of support for Chase Anderson. saying, "You have to strongly consider him as part of our rotation," But even Collmenter doesn't mind the competition. "You have to prove yourself time and time again. The more people you have competing for that, the better it is for everybody. I think it's going to be good for the guys and I think it's going to be good for the club... But just entertaining the thought is exciting and it will be a unique opportunity for myself."
Positional flexibility a spring plus
Tomas may be penciled in at third, but might see playing time in the outfield too during spring, in order to get more at-bats. The same goes for Peter O'Brien, who could possibly slide over to first for extra playing time. Meanwhile, prospect Brandon Drury will be split between second- and third-base. Are these omens of positional changes to come? Seems more potentially likely for Tomas and Drury, I imagine: 1B is pretty much locked-down, but according to Hale, only Goldie, A.J. Pollock and Mark Trumbo are certainties, with every other position to be decided. If a player can handle more than one spot, that may increase his chances of making the Opening Day roster.
Tuesday, we'll start to know more, with the first ever game between the Diamondbacks and the ASU Sun Devils, which should be an interesting match-up. Then on Wednesday, and again on Thursday, it's - oh, look, what a surprise - the Colorado Rockies, as the Cactus League gets under way. Yay for meaningless baseball! And after so many months without any Diamondbacks at all, how good it feels...