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Snake Bytes, 3/23: The eagle has landed

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USA! USA! USA! USA!

World Baseball Classic - Championship Round - Game 3 - United States v Puerto Rico Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images

Team news

[Arizona Sports] Brandon Drury locked in at 2B - Torey Lovullo, who has promoted competition all over the diamond, conceded that any battle for second base that was happening is all but over. “I would say so,” he said when asked if the job was Drury’s. “He’s had a great camp. He’s addressed a lot of needs. “For his own comfort level at second base, I know it was something that was going to be new to him and we brought that idea to him this offseason so he was able to prepare for it mentally and physically. It’s translated. Offensively he’s having a great spring, but we knew he was built around offense and that was going to be, really, the non-issue for him. So he should be proud of himself for how he’s addressed the needs defensively, he’s been really good.”

[Dbacks.com] Shelby looking sharp for Year 2 in Arizona - Miller took his turn on the D-backs' off-day to keep the rotation in order. He gave up two runs on five hits with a walk and seven strikeouts but, more important, his four-seamer was sitting at 93-96 mph, touching 97. Miller, 26, looks different this spring. "I know what I read and I know what I saw last year," Lovullo said. "I would have never guessed -- from my first interaction being on the phone to my first physical interaction -- I never would have guessed he had a tough year last year. He is on a really good path, a very forward path to being successful. I think he's ready to do some special things this year."

[AZ Central] Bradley open to shift to bullpen - “With the way I’m throwing the baseball right now, the way I feel, the way the ball is coming out, I’m comfortable in any role, in any capacity,” Bradley said. “Just put me on this team.” Bradley gave up just one hit in five innings against San Francisco Giants minor leaguers. He did not walk a batter for the third consecutive outing. “I’m getting ahead, and when I’m getting ahead, I’m putting guys away,” Bradley said. “I’m throwing all four pitches. I’m throwing change-ups, I’m throwing cutters, I’m throwing curveballs. I feel like my last couple of outings, I’ve thrown more change-ups and cutters than I have curveballs, which is a huge sign of improvement for me.”

[ESPN, via Arizona Sports] Ray potential breakout pitcher in 2017 - When hitters did make contact, they hit the ball hard. When they hit fly balls, they hit it very hard... As one example, hitters hit .477 and slugged .785 on 1-1 counts, compared to the MLB average of .334 and .536. Some of this is fastball command. Ray can blow it by hitters a lot of the time, but you can’t blow it by them all of the time. Pitch selection could also have been an issue and as a fastball/slider guy, maybe he’ll have to mix in a few more curveballs (he rarely throws a changeup) or two-seam fastballs. New catchers Jeff Mathis and Chris Iannetta, both longtime veterans, could help in this area.

[Napa Valley Register] Negron of Napa in major league camp with Diamondbacks - “I had a completely healthy offseason and played the whole year healthy last year,” Negron, 31, said. “I feel good. The swing feels good. Life feels good. Everything is going according to plan. I’m liking how things are playing out right now.” Negron is with the major league team in camp. The Diamondbacks have been playing him in the infield and outfield. “My versatility is being put to the test, which is awesome for me, because I love moving around and bouncing around and playing a bunch of different positions,” he said. “I’m coming out, working hard every day.

[Phoenix Business Journal] Diamondbacks form 5 new local partnerships - The Arizona Diamondbacks have established more than 20 new partnerships with local companies in an effort to boost their own branding as well as that of the local businesses. “The D-backs are very excited to partner with local companies for the upcoming season,” said Derrick Hall. “There are so many amazing companies in our own backyard../ We look forward to growing our roots in the state of Arizona and supporting the businesses and fans who have done so much for our team and community over the years.”

And, elsewhere... [WBC edition]

[ESPN] Marcus Stroman's heroics lead USA to first WBC title - A pitcher from a Canadian club, who could have suited up for Puerto Rico, was the United States' hero in the championship game of the World Baseball Classic. Marcus Stroman had the opportunity to pitch for the opponent, because his mother is of Puerto Rican heritage, but instead the Toronto Blue Jays starter was simply dominating in leading the United States to an 8-0 victory in the winner-take-all contest. He carried a no-hitter after six innings and had faced the minimum 18 batters before Angel Pagan opened the seventh with a single.

[FOX Sports] World Baseball Classic title is a perfect end to Jim Leyland’s career - In the interview room, a reporter asked Leyland what it meant to cap off his career by winning the World Baseball Classic. “I had the honor of managing for our country. The coaches had the honor of coaching for our country. The players had the honor of playing for our country,” Leyland said. “But this is really about the men and women that serve our country. That’s who this is for.”

[SI] Highlights and lowlights from the best WBC ever - The enduring image of the 2017 World Baseball Classic could pass for a staged publicity shot ordered by baseball commissioner and chief WBC salesman Rob Manfred, but it really happened organically. It is the picture of Adam Jones, wearing a jersey with USA across the chest, leaping in front of a WBC logo on the centerfield wall to steal a home run from Manny Machado last Saturday night, while behind him American flags wave and fans smile and wonder in delight. What a catch—not just for Jones but also for us. Baseball in March never looked better than it did in the fourth WBC.