SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — The pressure, palpable.
The spotlight, bright.
And reliever Andrew Chafin delivered.
“I don’t know what was going on through my head, but I guess I had ice in my veins,” Chafin said, laughing.
Only moments earlier, Chafin had calmly stepped up to home plate, squared around and dropped down the perfect bunt towards first base to score a “run” thus giving his team, Team Greinke, the walk-off win in a four-team pitchers bunting tournament.
“Chip was out there chirping a little bit, trying to make it a little bit more pressure,” Chafin said, referring to manager Chip Hale. “I was like, ‘come on, get out of the way, I got a job to do!’
“It was good intensity out there. It was fun, and it’s always nice to win.”
A week into full-squad workouts, Hale decided to hold “competition day” — as he called it — to break up the monotony of spring training.
“They can be long days, especially when you have a lot of pitchers in camp like we do,” he said. “To have a day where the pitchers don’t need to throw and you can make it fun and competitive like it got, is great.”
The D-backs open Cactus League play next Wednesday.
While the pitchers were working on their bunting, the position players held their own tournament, playing a situational hitting game.
In the first semi-final, Team (David) Peralta beat Team (A.J.) Pollock.
“It feels good. We were confident. I’m really excited for this win today,” said Peralta, whose team advanced to Sunday’s championship, where they’ll face Team (Paul) Goldschmidt, which defeated Team (Welington) Castillo.
The Peralta-Pollock matchup went back-and-forth.
“I was surprised because I was on that field and the Pollock team was so good when I was watching them early,” Hale said. “And I came back and the Peralta team took the lead and beat them. That showed you something. They had a little team chemistry, I think.”
Pollock was not pleased.
“I’m not going to blame anyone. It’s a team effort. We lost,” he said. “I’m on the hook for a couple of bucks. I’m not happy about it. I’ll get them back.”
Friendly wagers aside, the drills were productive, according to Pollock.
“That’s how you get better,” he said. “You have a little competition with each other, in good fun. It was good.”
And perhaps needed.
Hale had done something similar a year ago, his first as D-backs manager.
“It’s definitely nice to mix it up a bit and just have fun instead of just going through all the drills; just being serious about everything,” Chafin said. “Being able to be serious and have fun at the same time doing it makes it a little bit more fun.”
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