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Snake Bytes, 2/23: D-backs Swing

Even by the standards of meaningless exhibition games, yesterday's win over GCU was particularly hollow. But it was still great, wasn't it?

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Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Team news

[AP] Healthy A.J. Pollock aims to exceed 2015 breakout season - One of the best facts about this year's Arizona Diamondbacks: A.J. Pollock is back, healthy, and confident he can exceed the breakout season he put together in 2015. "I'm not really living two years ago," the 29-year-old center fielder said Wednesday after playing one inning in an exhibition against Grand Canyon University. "I'm living what's going on right now. It's getting better everywhere — with the swing, getting better defensively and just kind of getting smarter."

[AZ Central] Diamondbacks’ Robbie Ray took good with bad in 2016 - Ray says there’s a good reason for the grunting, something teammate Zack Greinke also does with regularity. "You know, I just started doing it and it felt really good," he said. "Then, I started doing research on it, and when you actually release a grunt or push wind out, it actually tightens your diaphragm. It keeps everything nice and tight so you’re not moving around a whole lot. It keeps my body in the position it needs to be. I didn’t know that initially. But knowing that now, it’s something that I continue to do."

[Arizona Sports] Lovullo seeks ‘creative balance’ when writing lineup - It was hard not to take notice of the possibility of what could be the starting lineup when the D-backs face the Giants on April 2. Lovullo quickly dismissed that idea. "There’s a ton of different lineups that I’ve been constructing in my head." So, does Lovullo, in his first season with the D-backs, believe in a set lineup? "I believe in both sides of that," he said. "There’s going to be a core group of guys that I want them to know where they’re going to be coming to play every single day. I believe in that. So, there’s going to be a creative balance. And how and when that starts to develop, I’m not sure.

[AZ Central] Diamondbacks' Anthony Banda continues impressive progress - Farm director Mike Bell recalls Banda beating himself up after struggling in an instructional league outing during his first fall with his new team. But Bell has seen his confidence grow by leaps and bounds in the past 2 1/2 years. "Just watching him last year, the confidence he had in himself on the mound, I think that was his biggest thing," Bell said. "His stuff has been his stuff and it’s above average, he commands the ball really well, but it’s just this inner belief in himself. I think he finally believes in himself as much as we do. I think that’s when he started taking off."

[] Peralta returns to D-backs camp - Outfielder David Peralta was back in D-backs' camp Wednesday after missing two days while continuing his progress towards securing his American citizenship. Peralta said he had to fly to Florida, which is his legal residence, to have his fingerprints taken. He will have to return at some point to take a citizenship test. Peralta, who is originally from Venezuela, said it would be a proud moment when he finally receives his citizenship.

[Beyond the Box Score] When stars-and-scrubs go bad: the Diamondbacks - Stars-and-scrubs is really attractive for a reason. It seems so easy! You just get great players, and then get some decent players (who should be lying around), and then you make the playoffs. But sometimes your great players aren’t as great as you thought, and decent players aren’t actually lying around, either in your farm system or on the market. In that situation, you’re the Diamondbacks, stocked with several great players but sunk by the scrubs that you have to start alongside them all season.

[AP] Baseball chief says Chase Field ‘needs work’ - Team owner Ken Kendrick said last week that the team will not go to arbitration to resolve the dispute. "The public’s money is at stake, our money is at stake, and if there is a dispute or debate it ought to be in public in front of a judge and not in private in arbitration," he said. Manfred said he had been in communication with Kendrick before the lawsuit was filed. "We take very seriously the obligation to have a major league-quality facility in each and every market. It’s absolutely clear from the material that’s been made available to me there are serious maintenance needs that need to be met with respect to the stadium."

[Inside the 'Zona] How the Diamondbacks Landed in Baseball’s Toughest Situation and Don’t Have a Clear Way Out - The ship is afloat, barely, but things aren’t great. They haven’t been in quite a long while with this team. Front offices don’t get to enter this world in innocence with a blank canvas. They often inherit the mistakes of those who came before and eventually make mistakes of their own that the next person in line receives. Here’s hoping in 2017, the new front office discerns a vision for this team and that they are critical and humble enough to realize and correct any mistakes they make along the way. The last front office only basked in theirs.

[FOX Sports] Matusz returns home, looking for chance in D-backs bullpen - Brian Matusz was 10 years old when the Diamondbacks played their first season, and a love affair quickly was born. He went to multiple games each season through high school, was in the right-field bleachers for Game 1 of the 2001 World Series and glued to the TV for the Game 7 comeback. So it is no surprise that — in conjunction with what manager Torey Lovullo called a wide-open bullpen — Arizona was at the top of the list when Matusz was weighing free agency offers this winter.

And, elsewhere...

[ESPN] MLB, union agree to get rid of traditional intentional walk,will use signal from dugout - As part of its initiative to improve the pace of game play, Major League Baseball has approved a change to the intentional walk rule, going from the traditional four-pitch walk to a dugout signal, it was announced Wednesday... Getting rid of the old-fashioned intentional walk would eliminate about a minute of dead time per walk. In an age when intentional walks actually have been declining -- there were just 932 all last season (or one every 2.6 games) -- that time savings would be minimal. But MLB saw the practice of lobbing four meaningless pitches as antiquated.

[] Pioneers of integrated Spring Training honored - This year's fourth annual Cactus League Hall of Fame induction honors four pioneering African-Americans who helped pave the way for others: Larry Doby, Willie Mays, Monte Irvin and Ernie Banks, all of whom were among the first handful of players to integrate Spring Training baseball in Arizona. Created by the Arizona Spring Training Experience, an ongoing traveling exhibit (owned and operated by the Mesa Historical Museum), with its primary installation on display at the Scottsdale Public Library through April 4.

[SFGate] New strike zone, pitch clock on hold until 2018 - MLB intends to give the players’ association the required one-year advance notice that would allow management to unilaterally change the strike zone, install pitch clocks and limit trips to the pitcher’s mound starting in 2018. Commissioner Rob Manfred made the announcement Tuesday after union head Tony Clark said last weekend that he did not foresee players agreeing to the proposed changes for 2017. Under baseball’s labor contract, management can alter playing rules only with agreement from the union — unless it gives one year notice. With the one year of notice, management can make changes on its own.