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Snake Bytes, 2/14: In love with baseball

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Pitchers and catchers report!

[] D-backs excited to start Spring Training - There was still that first-day-of-school feel around the complex, though, with right-hander Archie Bradley admitting he had some trouble sleeping on Sunday night just from the anticipation of it all. Pitchers and catchers will work out Tuesday and position players report Thursday, with the first full-squad workout coming on Friday. "It felt good to get back out and throw the ball around a little bit and just get moving around a little bit and be around the guys," left-hander Robbie Ray said.

[FOX Sports] Nearly same D-backs report to camp seeking drastically different results - The Diamondbacks overhauled their front office and hired a new manager in the offseason, yet much of roster is back from the one that turned in a 69-win season a year ago. That didn’t dampen optimism as a new season officially began Monday with pitchers and catchers reporting to Salt River Fields. "No one’s really talked about it," pitcher Patrick Corbin said of last season. "They’re all looking forward. We’re still excited about the group of guys we have here. We think we a very talented team. If guys are doing what they’re capable of doing, I think we’re going to be a tough team to beat."

[Arizona Sports] 'New year, new team, new everything' - "It’s like starting your own business. There’s a lot of things that you’re trying to put together, a lot of visions that I’ve had," Lovullo told the assembled media. "And those visions are common with Mike Hazen, and I can see that I’m aligned with ownership and Derrick as well. Those visions are coming together quickly. There’s an overall excitement that we want to start a new business and see how it runs. The track record speaks for itself. Mike Hazen has come from a winning organization. I was part of that winning organization for a short period of time. We feel like we understand what it takes to put something in motion and make it be successful."

[AZ Central] Lovullo set to go after ‘long runway’ - On Monday afternoon, the day pitchers and catchers reported to spring training, Lovullo met with the media on a patio overlooking the main stadium at Salt River Fields. The blue-sky day was befitting of the kind of optimism spring training always evokes. I want these guys to be able to tell a really good story at the end of the year," Lovullo said. "What that story is right now, we’re not sure. I know I’m eager to watch these guys perform every single day." He laid out his hopes and expectations for his players, talked about the kind of camp he plans to run, about working smart and playing consistently, the stuff typical of report day.

[Fox Sports] Consistency key for Archie Bradley

Team news

[AZ Central] Diamondbacks nearing crossroads with Paul Goldschmidt - If they again stumble out of the gate and find themselves distant contenders in the NL West, they might be forced to consider rebuilding. And that would mean deciding what to do with their franchise player. "I would hope he’s here for the long haul," Diamondbacks CEO Derrick Hall said. "We haven’t had those conversations. You’re talking about a guy that has been the face of our roster and continues to perform every year. I would certainly hope (we wouldn’t have to trade him)."

[Arizona Sports] D-backs GM Mike Hazen acknowledges improving farm system is a priority - "Over the course of years, we’ve been ranked all over the map with the different clubs I’ve been with and you sort of take it with a grain of salt, because they’re not privy to every bit of information inside your organization. We know that and they know that, but it does give you a rough approximation. The way I look at it is, maybe we’re 30th, maybe we’re not. But we’re probably not fifth, right?.. I think it’s more indicative that we’re at the bottom. In order for us to be sustainable long-term, we need to be at the top, so that’s going to be a focus for us."

[] D-backs new staff, close players to open camp - Torey Lovullo has not had a lot of time to spend around his players, but what he has seen so far during early workouts at Salt River Fields has him excited. "Watching these guys, I've noticed a couple of things," Lovullo said. "First, there's a lot of talent on both sides of the ball. Second, these guys know one another, care about one another, and for the most part, grew up in this organization together. That's a powerful thing. You can see it in the way they communicate with one another and the way they compete with one another that they care about one another, and that's really important for the success of our organization."

[AZ Central] Five moves that shaped the Diamondbacks’ offseason - The Diamondbacks’ quiet offseason was, in a way, one final move – and perhaps a precursor to more moves: It meant their core group of players gets another opportunity to win together. Could it be their last chance? With a farm system ranked near the bottom of the majors, the Diamondbacks might have to begin selling off veterans if they don’t win this year. Center fielder A.J. Pollock and left-hander Patrick Corbin are among those whose trade value might never be higher than it will be this summer.

[Arizona Sports] ESPN writer: Paul Goldschmidt, Robbie Ray 'way-too-early' 2017 All-Stars - Just like they did with their "way-too-early" NFL power rankings, ESPN came out with a list of "way-too-early" predictions for the 2017 MLB All-Star Game. While it’s not at all surprising that first baseman Paul Goldschmidt made writer David Schoenfield’s National League roster, the inclusion of starting pitcher Robbie Ray may surprise some... Schoenfield referred to Ray as "a pop-up All-Star candidate" due in large part to his live arm and 218 strikeouts last season. In fact, his 11.25 strikeouts per nine innings in 2016 ranked second behind the late Jose Fernandez.

And, elsewhere...

[ESPN] MLB wants to implement 30-second limit for managers to decide on replay challenges - As it zeroes in on ways to improve its pace of play, Major League Baseball has turned its attention to an area of built-in dead time -- instant replay. And its first target is managers. Sources told ESPN that MLB wants a 30-second time limit for managers to decide whether or not to challenge an umpire's call and is currently discussing that limit, along with other possible changes to replay, with both the players' and umpires' unions.

[] Raising strike zone small step toward fixing pace of action - "Slowing the game down" has become a valued ideal. Visits to the mound to "coach up" the pitcher or change signs, and strolls around the mound or around the batter’s box to "mentally prepare" for the next pitch have become badges of honor. While behavior to "slow play" the game increases, so do velocity and spin, which has the effect of shortening the distance between the mound and plate. Hitters have less time than ever to react—while facing more pitchers with better stuff than ever. And so the rate of strikeouts has gone up for 11 consecutive years.

[Hardball Times] The Homogenization of Ballparks - The Polo Grounds were not alone in their oddity. These types of idiosyncrasies have disappeared from the game. Let’s take a deeper look. We’ll look at distances to the outfield fence, the area behind home plate, ballpark capacity, the height of the fence, and discuss the way the two biggest ballpark booms in the history of the game have shifted the story.