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MLB: Chicago Cubs at Arizona Diamondbacks Rick Scuteri-USA TODAY Sports

Arizona Diamondbacks News

[D’backs.com] Ahmed’s knee, Locastro’s pushups - D-backs shortstop Nick Ahmed was scratched from Monday’s starting lineup due to right knee soreness. The D-backs and Giants wound up tying, 2-2, at Scottsdale Stadium. “It’s going to be day to day,” D-backs manager Torey Lovullo said. “I just figured this point in Spring Training, let him get ahead of that. And I’ll just keep you guys posted on his progress over the coming days, but nothing that we’re overly concerned about at this point.” One indication that the injury is not serious is that as of now, Lovullo said there are no plans for Ahmed to have any tests like an MRI. “I just think it’s just a normal Spring Training ... part of the aches and pains that all these athletes go through,” Lovullo said.

[Arizona Sports] D-backs’ Caleb Smith goes scoreless in bounce-back effort vs. Giants - Arizona Diamondbacks projected starter Caleb Smith had six days to think about his first start of spring training. Against San Diego last week, the pitcher was mostly effective, but ran into some problems when it came to Fernando Tatis, who used a second-inning grand slam to tilt the game in favor of the Padres. Fast forward to Monday’s 2-2 tie with the San Francisco Giants, however, and it was clear Smith had brushed off any first-game jitters. Pitching three scoreless innings, the pitcher settled in on the mound, striking out three batters and not allowing a single hit. The only blemish in Smith’s performance was a lone walk.

[AZ Central] CEO Derrick Hall: Diamondbacks approved for 25 percent capacity at Chase Field - The Diamondbacks have received approval to host fans at 25 percent capacity at Chase Field this season, the team’s CEO, Derrick Hall, said in an appearance on Fox Sports Arizona during Sunday’s game broadcast. Hall said the club has been cleared by both Governor Doug Ducey’s office and by the Arizona Department of Health Services. “It comes out to around 12,000 fans to begin with,” Hall said. “We’ll do in a very appropriately distanced way. Hopefully, things will go smooth, we’ll see these numbers continue to go down and we can offer many more seats in the second, third, fourth month, if we can.” The Diamondbacks played the entirety of last year’s 60-game schedule without fans in attendance. The club has been playing in front of crowds of around 2,100 at Salt River Fields this spring.

[The Athletic] The Diamondbacks want Daulton Varsho to catch and so does he. But at what level? - Learning the catching position is like peeling an onion that keeps growing new layers, and [Daulton] Varsho has spent much of his pro career mastering the technical aspects of the job. But catching is more than a physical exercise, and last season proved eye-opening for Varsho when it comes to the mental and strategic side of things. He joined big-league camp for the first time last spring, which meant a crash course in the many ways the Diamondbacks game plan for opposing hitters. Arizona provides pitcher-specific game plans for each starting pitcher, each with information far more detailed than anything Varsho had encountered in the minors. Thanks to the pandemic, Varsho didn’t get to put that information into action until late in the year. Although the Diamondbacks called him up to the big leagues quickly into the abbreviated 2020 season, it wasn’t until Sept. 4 that he started and finished a full game at catcher, something he did only four more times for the rest of the season. Still, Varsho found the experience enlightening.

[The Rattle] How Optimistic Should D-backs Fans Be This Spring? - After finishing a disappointing 25-35—roughly equivalent to a 68 win full-season—the D-backs watched the Padres launch an explosive offseason. Beyond trading for Blake Snell and Yu Darvish, they extended Fernando Tatis Jr. to a mega-deal and shored up other weaknesses. The defending World Series Champions in L.A., in no need of an upgrade, splurged for Trevor Bauer. The D-backs, meanwhile, had a quieter offseason, signing Joakim Soria and Tyler Clippard to bolster their bullpen and Asdrúbal Cabrera to aid the bats. As the dust settles, the D-backs are likely to find themselves pinned behind the two best teams in the NL, leaving the path to the playoffs faint. That does not mean that hope is entirely absent. The 2021 squad contains much of the same team that was over .500 for three straight years before last summer’s struggles. The rotation boasts four pitchers—Zac Gallen, Madison Bumgarner, Merrill Kelly, and Luke Weaver—that have flashed or sustained front-of-the-rotation pitching in the past; the offense contains potential stars such as Ketel Marte and Eduardo Escobar. If the talent coalesces, this team could be good. Of course, this level of optimism looks past major concerns for many of these players. So what degree of hope is truly warranted? Is all hope lost, or can we see the 2017-2019 D-backs re-emerge?

Around the League

[ESPN] Rheal Cormier, longtime MLB pitcher and 2-time Olympian, dies at 53 from cancer - Rheal Cormier, the durable left-hander who spent 16 seasons in the majors and remarkably pitched in the Olympics before and after his time in the big leagues, died Monday. He was 53. The Philadelphia Phillies said Cormier died of cancer at his home in New Brunswick, Canada. Cormier owned a neat nook in Phillies history: He was the winning pitcher in the final game that Philadelphia won at Veterans Stadium in 2003, and also was the winner in the first game the Phils won after moving into Citizens Bank Park in 2004.

[MLB Trade Rumors] MLB To Adopt Modified, Loan-Based Revenue Sharing Plan For 2021 Season - After being halted in 2020 due to the pandemic, Major League Baseball’s revenue-sharing system between bigger-market and smaller-market teams will return in an altered form in 2021, The Athletic’s Evan Drellich reports (subscription required). Smaller-market clubs will only receive half of the normal amount of funds this year, with the other half coming in 2022. The league itself will be covering the 2021 payments in a loan deal, with the larger-market teams expected to eventually pay MLB back. “Expected” may be a loaded term, however, as Drellich notes that there are still several details about this plan that are unclear, or are open to interpretation based on comments from executives from different teams. One exec from a large-market team believes MLB’s loan is just for the sake of optics (“They can say whatever they want for politics, the understanding is it’ll never be paid back“), while a league source insists otherwise.

[MLB.com] Big Papi’s son chasing his own MLB dream - Now 16 years old and just over a year away from graduating from high school, D’Angelo Ortiz inhabits the same kind of playground he’s been in since he could walk. All of his life, from his earliest memories, he’s had one vocational goal — and that’s to be a baseball player. “Just a baseball player,” confirmed D’Angelo. “I’ve still got to get my work in, but, baseball player, that’s it. That’s all it is.” It’s something that means everything to him. Millions upon millions have had the same dream, but D’Angelo’s story is a little different. His father, David, is a living legend who is considered iconic in Boston and the Dominican Republic — and beloved even by most casual baseball followers. The long shadow Big Papi casts is one D’Angelo — who now stands 6-foot and weighs roughly 200 pounds — has no fear of. In fact, he embraces it. Perhaps because he has been happily walking and even running joyfully in that shadow for most of his life.

[Yahoo Sports] MLB suspends free agent pitcher Sam Dyson entire 2021 season under domestic violence policy - MLB suspended free agent pitcher Sam Dyson for the entire 2021 season and postseason for violating the league’s domestic violence policy. Commissioner Robert D. Manfred announced the discipline on Friday and Dyson accepted the punishment. It is the longest suspension levied by the league under the policy for a player who was not formally charged. Dyson, 32, will participate in a “confidential and comprehensive evaluation and treatment program” with the joint policy board overseeing, MLB said.