For the D-backs, the ‘bad taste’ remains in the form of the Dodgers
PHOENIX – It’s the Dodgers so the series is already big, but the last time the Dodgers visited Chase Field, they walked away with a 3-1 victory in Game 3 of the National League Division Series.
The Arizona Diamondbacks would not play another game in 2017.
They had been swept, and they’ve had all offseason to think about it.
“That bad taste that we had maybe motivated us through the offseason to prepare ourselves and get us ready for spring training,” manager Torey Lovullo said, ahead of Monday’s series opener. “But once we hit the ground running in spring training, it was business as usual. We started to forward our thoughts to 2018, and we’re in a good place.”
Though postseason history may not be on the D-backs’ side, regular season history is.
The D-backs enter Monday winners of six in a row over the Dodgers. Overall, they went 11-8 against the Dodgers last season.
“As far as a test or anything other than just being a game that we’re going to try to go win, I don’t know if that’s necessarily true,” first baseman Paul Goldschmidt said.
The D-backs are 2-1, having taken two of three in the season-opening series with Colorado. The Dodgers, meanwhile, split a four-game set with San Francisco.
As improved as the NL West is from a year ago, the Dodgers are still considered, by many, to be the team to beat in 2018 and capture what would be their sixth consecutive division title.
“The Dodgers are the Dodgers. They’re the defending National League champions. They were close to winning a World Series. We know what that team looks like and we want to get to that place, too,” Lovullo said. “We can use (the series) as a marker to see where we’re at and gage where we’re at, but the season is so long I think we’re going to focus on us, take care of our business today, tomorrow and always and see where that lands us at the end of the season.”
Yasmany Tomas outrighted
Over the weekend, the D-backs outrighted outfielder Yasmany Tomas to Triple-A Reno.
The move was more procedural than anything else, according to Lovullo, in that all the team did was remove Tomas from the major league roster.
“It’s not a failure. It doesn’t mean that we have or have not seen the last of Yasmany Tomas here,” Lovullo said. “He is now treated like any other minor league player where you perform and do your job you’re going to have a chance to be considered for a call-up. It’s not a dead-end street for Yasmany.”
The D-backs want Tomas, who is owed more than $42 million in the remaining three seasons of a $68 million contract, to focus on his defense while in the minors. It’s expected he’ll see most of his playing time at the two corner spots in the outfield.
“We believe that defense will win you games. Pitching and defense will win you championships,” Lovullo said. “We feel like we can compliment all of the offense with those two things, we’re going to be in good shape. It’s what baseball is trending to today. You don’t see these big boppers that can’t play defense anymore. They just don’t happen. Those are the DHs in the American League.”
Following his season debut, right-hander Zack Greinke reported no issues, according to Lovullo.
Greinke, who dealt with right groin tightness in spring training, struck out nine in 5.2 innings on Saturday against the Rockies.
“He did everything that he wanted to do, and he went as hard as he could for as long as he could and that’s what we’re going to ask Zack to do all year long,” Lovullo said.
More good news, as right fielder Steven Souza Jr. continues to make good progress in his rehab from a strained right pectoral that landed him on the disabled list prior to Opening Day.
On Monday, Souza played catch out to 90 feet and swung a bat in the cage.
“Improving every single day,” Lovullo said. “The fact that he threw today without much of a limitation was a big day for him.”