D-backs open spring training, ready to ‘turn the page’ to 2018
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — The Arizona Diamondbacks accomplished quite a lot in 2017. They won 93 games, made the playoffs and beat the Colorado Rockies in the National League Wild Card round.
It was a season to be proud of, and the D-backs are. But as manager Torey Lovullo pointed out on Wednesday — the first day of spring training — that was last year. It’s 2018 now, and it’s a whole new season.
“We want to turn the page on what happened last year. We feel like we built some of this foundation, created a culture and we just need to pick up from where we left off last year,” Lovullo said. “It’s time for us to get ready, gear up and do things the way we know how do them. It shouldn’t be a huge adjustment. They know what my expectations are.”
Of course, every team’s expectations in February are the same: Compete for a playoff spot and ultimately finish with the World Series trophy raised above their heads.
The D-backs accomplished the former and fell short of the latter last season.
After winning the Wild Card game, the D-backs were swept in the divisional series by the Los Angeles Dodgers, losing all three games by a combined nine runs.
“We have the taste in our mouth of postseason and we definitely want to get back. We’re hungry,” left hander Robbie Ray said.
The D-backs go into this season with their entire starting rotation back 2017, led by right-hander Zack Greinke.
“Zack is healthy and ready and throwing a bullpen (Thursday),” Lovullo said.
D-backs’ starters compiled a 3.61 ERA last season, the third-best mark in baseball, and best in the two-decade history of the franchise.
The bullpen will look a little different, especially the back end, where Brad Boxberger, Archie Bradley and Yoshi Hirano are expected to fill the seventh-eighth-and ninth-inning roles.
“Everybody wants to know the order of Hirano, Boxberger and Bradley. I don’t know that, I don’t know that answer,” Lovullo said.
As far as position battles, there aren’t many, though Lovullo pointed to the middle infield, which he called “undetermined”, and the outfield, specifically one of the two corner spots.
“How we fill that and who starts and who plays is going to be up for grabs,” Lovullo said. “We have a lot of different parts that could go into right now.”
The largest part, of course, is J.D. Martinez, who in 62 games last season for the D-backs, hit .302 with 29 home runs and 65 RBI.
Martinez remains a free agent and the D-backs remain interested in bringing him back. And perhaps it was telling that the team left an open locker stall between Nos. 27 (Brandon Drury) and 30 (T.J. McFarland) inside the clubhouse at Salt River Fields.
Martinez wears No. 28.
“You guys pay attention,” Lovullo said, smiling, before adding about Martinez, “J.D. was a huge part of our ball club last year and I know that there’s 30 teams that are available to him and I’ll leave it at that. I don’t know anything else. I just know that he was a main reason why we performed the way we did last year down the stretch.”
• The first official on-field work for pitchers and catchers was held under overcast skies. The D-backs were outside for two hours, easily avoiding the late-morning rain showers that bled into the afternoon in Scottsdale.
• Only two pitchers had yet to report: relievers Antonio Bastardo and Neftali Feliz. According to Lovullo, both should be in camp “in the next day or two.”
Position players report Sunday with the first full-squad workout scheduled for Monday.
• The health of the team is good. The D-backs, though, are slow-playing a couple of pitchers who dealt with injuries late last season: relievers Randall Delgado (right elbow) and Jimmie Sherfy (left triceps).
“Both are scheduled to throw in the coming days,” Lovullo said.