For established D-backs, spring training is a different experience
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — All of the players in the Diamondbacks’ spring training camp are there to prepare for the upcoming season, but that can look very different for some than for others.
As the team opened its Cactus League slate on Friday, several of the regular names that headlined the D-backs’ lineup last year were not expected to see game action.
Such is the difference between a major league veteran and a hopeful minor league prospect in spring training.
“It’s different,” Jake Lamb said. “Your first camp, you kind of know you’re not going to make the team, you’re just trying to show how hard you work and impress the coaches a little bit. Me personally, now, I’m trying to work on specific things, I’m excited to get the games going and I can work on things at the plate and in the field defensively. Really honing down on small but specific things for each part of my game.”
Manager Torey Lovullo said Friday that several of the team’s major league starters would play Saturday and were given extra time to prepare for game action.
Paul Goldschmidt could be among those players.
“Torey’s in charge, so he kind of takes care of it,” Goldschmidt said. “He sees the bigger picture. I think it’s just trying to be smart, take some rest days but also get out there and be prepared.”
Goldschmidt added that veterans may know their bodies better and not need as much time to get ready for the regular season; instead, it’s about quality over quantity, saving games and innings for the 162 games that lie ahead.
The major league starters also get to use a laid-back spring camp as a chance to prepare for what lies ahead, off the field.
“Spring training, part of it is you haven’t seen the guys for so long over the five or six weeks that spring training is, you get to know each other, bring in the new guys and reconnect with the old ones,” he said. “As the season goes on, it’s something that we’ve tried to do a really good job of. Going to team dinners and hanging out and getting to know each other personally and each other’s family and kids because that’s a big part of it.
“If you can help a guy on and off the field, you want to be there for each other or guys going through things, if you’ve been in similar situations, that’s a big part. It’s not just showing up and playing baseball, it’s the total package of the team.”
As part of that team bonding, the group had a golf outing on Thursday that Lamb said the D-backs do each spring (he also admitted that he, in fact, is not a good golfer).
And the playing time? It will come. For players expected to start their season in the minor leagues, a day off might be the thing they’re waiting on.
“You’ve got to earn your way and earn those off-days,” Goldschmidt said of younger players. “You don’t really know your game as much. You need those extra reps where now you kind of know what you need to get ready a little bit more.”
–Zack Godley is the probable starter for the Diamondbacks in their game against the Indians on Saturday, while Zack Greinke is expected to go on Sunday against the Brewers.
–Steven Souza isn’t expected to see game action in the next few days as he settles in after “bouncing around” following his trade from the Tampa Bay Rays.
–Jarrod Dyson will also need a few extra days before seeing playing time as he returns from a late-season core injury in 2017.