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Snake Bytes, 2/23: Wave your cacti in the air, like you just don’t care!

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Cactus League play starts this afternoon.

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RHS Chelsea Flower Show Basks In Sunshine For Its Press Day Launch Photo by Jack Taylor/Getty Images

Team news

[MLB] Now healthy, Koch set to start Cactus opener - “Excited for him,” D-backs manager Torey Lovullo said. “All the work he’s been putting in. Last year was a lean year for him because of some injuries that he walked through early, so we felt like it would be special for him to start tomorrow and get a new start to the 2018 season.” Lovullo said he didn’t know who else was scheduled to pitch in the game. Most regulars, such as Paul Goldschmidt and A.J. Pollock, will not play until Saturday, but Chris Herrmann will catch, Chris Owings will serve as the designated hitter and Ketel Marte will play shortstop.

[AZ Central] Peralta's journey serves as inspiration - Peralta has become something of a fan favorite in Arizona. His batting stance is full of attitude, starting with how he leans back in his stance before the first pitch, like a gladiator readying for battle. He is full of energy, exuberance and relentless ambition. When he singled in his first playoff at-bat against the Rockies in the wild-card playoff, eventually scoring on Paul Goldschmidt’s home run, he felt “like my heart was about to burst with joy.” Peralta played in 140 games last season, and is hell-bent on staying healthy, pushing his career to new levels. He can’t replace what Martinez gave the Diamondbacks in 2017, but he understands the most important lesson of all: Anything is possible when you dare to dream big.

[Arizona Sports] D-backs' commitment to winning shows in spending, payroll figure - Per Spotrac.com, the total salary figure sits at $130,370,000, including Shelby Miller (disabled list) and the minor-league deals that could be locked in for pitchers Antonio Bastardo, Jorge De La Rosa and Kris Medlen if they earn roster spots. Not including the $5.85 million potentially owed to the minor-leaguers, Arizona ranks 16th in payroll, according to Spotrac.com. On top of pay increases to returning players, the pursuit of veterans like catcher Alex Avila ($4 million), reliever Yoshi Hirano ($3 million) and likely backup outfielder Dyson ($3.75 million) are costs that weren’t there heading into 2017.

[MLB] Murphy, Feliz dark-horse candidates for D-backs - It would not be surprising to see at least one non-roster reliever make this year’s team. Feliz could end up being one of them. The 29-year-old was a star for the Rangers as a closer when they made the World Series in 2010 and ‘11, before Tommy John surgery sidetracked his career. Feliz impressed in 2016, when he compiled a 3.52 ERA in 62 games for the Pirates, and he still has electric stuff. Because he was signed late in the offseason, Feliz missed the first few days of camp, but he impressed the D-backs’ staff by the physical condition he reported in.

[Arizona Sports] Steven Souza Jr. arrives in Arizona excited to be a D-back - “He’s going to fit right in to this clubhouse. We’re excited about the type of bat, about the type of defender and about the type of person that just walked into our clubhouse this morning,” manager Torey Lovullo said. “I watched a couple of rounds of his BP. It looked like the swing was where he wanted it. I didn’t have a chance to follow-up with him, but we’re thrilled that he’s here and he’s happy to be here and it was a good introduction this morning.”

[Inside the 'Zona] D-backs Miss Martinez, Add Souza and Stay Flexible - It’s hard not to wonder what could have been. I won’t try to argue that Steven Souza is J.D. Martinez. Both are upgrades over the alternative of doing nothing to shore up the corner outfield situation. The D-backs knew they couldn’t give Yasmany Tomas regular starts and went in an different direction, despite the sunk costs. They got better and presumably kept some flexibility. The time to win is now, but the future still exists. Mike Hazen and company are doing their best to maximize the former without totally sacrificing the latter. That’s a worthwhile strategy, so now we’re left to see how it works out. Luckily, we won’t have to wait long.

[Arizona Sports] Shortstop: One of few position battles left for Arizona Diamondbacks - Nick Ahmed, Ketel Marte and Chris Owings are all vying for the job. All manned the position in 2017. “We have some very capable guys that are going to go out there and compete,” Lovullo said. “Nobody is the lead-dog right now. It’s all going to be a blank canvas in my eyes and they’re going to go out and hopefully somebody will emerge from that group and be the starting shortstop.” A pair of right-hand injuries limited Ahmed to 53 games last season, including 41 starts at shortstop. “It was a very, very trying year for Nick,” Lovullo said.

[AZ Central] Yasmany Tomas contract keeps hurting - So how could this play out? There’s obviously no way to trade him, not unless the Diamondbacks want to take back someone else’s bad contract. But a lot could happen between now and Opening Day. It’s possible Tomas could put together a huge spring training performance and compel the Diamondbacks to keep him on the roster, hoping he could provide right-handed power off the bench, something they could use. Or an injury or two could open the door. But if the Diamondbacks get to the end of camp, decide they don’t want Tomas on the roster and need a 40-man spot, he might wind up being designated for assignment.

[Realtor] Big Unit, Big Deal? Randy Johnson Slices $3M Off Price of Arizona Mansion - The Hall of Fame pitcher and Arizona Diamondbacks legend owns a 25,000-square-foot mansion in Paradise Valley that’s been languishing on the market since September 2014. Now the “The Big Unit” is ready to cut a big deal—he knocked an additional $3 million off the list price this week. The seven-bedroom, 12-bathroom home hit the market for $25 million nearly four years ago. Then early last year, the fearsome hurler knocked $5 million off the price. And now, it can be yours for the relatively low price of $16.5 million.

And, elsewhere...

[MLB] George Clooney once tried out for the Reds but just could not hit a curveball - Clooney once tried out for the Reds in 1977. Yes, the Big Red Machine Reds. The 16-year-old was a top high school ballplayer and was invited to the team's facilities for a tryout. He could hit fastballs fine, but when the pitcher started throwing curves, things did not go so well ...

[MLB Daily Dish] Rays trade Corey Dickerson to Pirates - The Rays traded outfielder Corey Dickerson to the Pirates for reliever Daniel Hudson, minor-league infielder Tristan Gray and cash (reportedly $1 million), according to a club announcement. Tampa Bay designated Dickerson for assignment on Saturday in the first of a series of moves that saw the club acquire C.J. Cron, sign Carlos Gomez and trade both Jake Odorizzi and Steven Souza. While the DFA was surprising at the time, the consensus was that the club was working on trades and would be able to get a reasonable return.

[Detroit News] ‘Unbelievable:’ Female ump Pawol gets first taste of MLB with Tigers game - Tigers manager Ron Gardenhire did something after the game Thursday that he would very rarely do in the regular season. He made a point of personally complimenting the home-plate umpire. “Helluva job, very nice,” he said to Jen Pawol, one of two women umpiring in professional baseball. Pawol is 41 and last season worked in the New York-Penn Short-Class A League. This was the first time she worked a game involving a major league team. “Unbelievable,” she said. “Just really excited now that I got through it. It took like three-years’ worth of professional work to get here. I went out there pretty confident and I feel pretty good how the day went.”