Sports fans in Australia may not be as familiar with baseball diamonds as they are cricket fields, but in March that familiarity will grow. The Arizona Diamondbacks and the Los Angeles Dodgers will meet in Sydney for a season-opening two-game series starting on the 22nd of the month.
The Sydney Cricket Ground will be fully renovated to a baseball field to host the games between the bitter NL West rivals.
“We know how big of a rivalry they are for us,” D-backs pitcher Patrick Corbin told The Dan Bickley Show with Vince Marotta on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM.. “Those games that get heated up a little bit are just the competition of baseball and the competitiveness of all the guys.”
The opening series between the two teams will come after a shortened spring training and an exhibition game against the Australian national team.
“Half of the guys haven’t been to Australia,” said Corbin. “All the guys are excited and I think we’re ready for the opportunity to head over there and I think it’s great for MLB and Australia as well.”
After cracking the starting rotation in his first full season in 2013, Corbin’s second season will feature new faces among the D-backs’ pitching staff. The addition of right-handed pitcher Bronson Arroyo and pitching consultant Dave Duncan give the team veteran experience for a young staff.
“You can see how much guys appreciate him [Arroyo],” Corbin said. “He’s been in the league for so long. Anybody who has stuck around that long is doing something right and whether he leads by example or he’s got something to tell you, I feel like he is easy to go up to talk to.”
Duncan was brought on board as a pitching consultant after a 33-year career coaching for six Major League clubs. The 68-year-old has been a member of four World Series teams and has coached four Cy Young award winners.
“He knows so much about pitching,” Corbin said. “When we’re throwing bullpens he wants every pitch to count, he wants the catcher calling pitches and he wants us to focus pitch-by-pitch and not get distracted.
“His resume is probably the best in baseball. To have a guy like this is very special for the team and we’re hoping for big things from our pitching staff this year since these guys are helping us.”
Corbin enters the 2014 season after pitching 208.1 innings last year, good for 9th-most in the National League. If the 2013 All-Star plans to duplicate his early-season success, staying healthy and focused for the 162-game campaign is crucial for him and the organization.
“I’ve tried to put on a couple pounds and put some weight on my legs and have a stronger core,” Corbin said. “Every pitcher has a routine and for me this year, I understand things a little bit more for how long the season really is.”