The Arizona Diamondbacks’ pitchers and catchers officially reported to Salt River Fields for spring training on Monday, but if it’s any sign of things to come, most of players had arrived well before the deadline.
It’s no secret that several Major League Baseball players make their offseason home in Arizona because of the nice weather. It’s also no secret that the D-backs might have a roster made up of guys eager to get to work.
Outfielder Adam Eaton seemed to agree.
“The great thing about Arizona is that a lot of guys like to come out early, great weather,” Eaton said. “I was here about the first week of January, so it’s been nice to get out and enjoy the weather and enjoy your teammates, especially the new guys that came into camp early. I couldn’t ask for a better group of guys to come here with.”
Veteran shortstop Willie Bloomquist, who makes his home in Arizona, said that most players came to the field early because they share the same common goal: winning.
“Everybody in here, we have no personal agenda, guys just want to win,” said Bloomquist. “So that’s refreshing that you have that kind of group of guys pulling in the same direction and out for the same thing. So again, just real excited to get going.”
A common adjective used amongst players on Monday when talking about this year’s roster was “hard-nosed.”
The D-backs added several new players to their roster who fit that mold, including Martin Prado, Randall Delgado, Rod Barajas, Cliff Pennington, Eric Hinske, Cody Ross, Didi Gregorius, Heath Bell, Brandon McCarthy and Eric Chavez.
“Great additions. I see it as a lot of very hard-nosed guys bringing attributes that we didn’t have before, like World series experience, playoff experience, World Series MVP.” said Eaton. “They’re great guys that have been there, so you couldn’t ask for better additions to the team.”
By the end of the open-clubhouse session at Salt River Fields, it seemed that the common description of the team’s attitude and personnel was right in line with manager Kirk Gibson’s style of play.
Gibson was asked Monday if the team was tailored to his style of play, and he didn’t exactly commit to the affirmative.
“I’ve heard that said but I’m not the general manager, number one,” Gibson said. “We all have discussions, and I think decisions were all made organizationally.”
He also reiterated that this isn’t the first time a reference has been made to his style of play and personality when examining a roster.
“The team we won with in 2011 was said to take on my personality, and we virtually had pretty much the same team last year,” said Gibson. “It wasn’t that they weren’t playing like me (in 2012), they busted their ass. Things just didn’t work out. Things didn’t fall into place.”
Either way, just like last spring, it doesn’t matter how the team shapes up on paper but rather how they perform on the field.
Catcher Miguel Montero may have said it best when asked about the absence of notable players like Justin Upton from the clubhouse.
“It doesn’t matter who left, just who’s here,” Montero said. “That’s all we have to focus on, who we got. I’m happy with what we got and I think we got a good ball club.”