D-backs don’t sweat exhibition losses, but Dodgers present serious challenge
The Arizona Diamondbacks getting outscored 21-3 in two exhibition games at the Los Angeles Dodgers earlier this week doesn’t look great.
The games don’t count for anything. The Diamondbacks didn’t have their normal starting pitchers on the mound. But it doesn’t portend well for the short season ahead, one in which the Diamondbacks were already a long shot to win the division before they were walloped by their rivals in their return to the diamond.
There’s a balance to be had somewhere between being alarmist and completely shrugging it off as meaningless.
“No, it didn’t mean nothing in my mind,” general manager Mike Hazen told Arizona Sports’ Doug & Wolf on Wednesday. “[Manager] Torey [Lovullo] and I have had conversations since. We didn’t look very good. Tip my cap to the Dodgers, like, they looked incredible. And I think, I hope, that that’s a good thing for us that we know and knew who we were chasing. That hasn’t been a secret.
“The projections have had it the way it was. They’ve won [the division] however many years in a row, I’ve lost count. And then they went out and acquired one of the best players in all of baseball [Mookie Betts]. That dynamic and structure hasn’t changed over the offseason, regardless of what’s gone on April, May, June and July.”
As Hazen said, it could be a stark reminder for what the D-backs are up against.
“We didn’t just lose. We got waxed,” reliever Archie Bradley told Doug & Wolf on Wednesday. “It’s weird. You feel like it matters because we rolled in on a plane, we rolled into Dodger Stadium, you know, you don’t normally do those for exhibition games. And considering we’re going to play the Dodgers in the regular season, I think there was a little bit of like, ‘Oh crap, what’s going on right now.’
“[Jake Lamb] said it best, he’s like, ‘Dude, these are spring games. There are no scouting reports, we rolled right in off the plane and rolled straight to the stadium. We don’t ever do this.’ I think all of us have the mindset of it was just good to play someone not wearing a D-backs uniform and really put us back in the mindset of like, ‘Alright, let’s go play baseball now.’ No one’s really fazed. Obviously it wasn’t fun, we don’t like getting beat like that, but in terms of it meaning anything, it doesn’t mean a thing.”
In the end, the results that play out in the 60-game season are what will count. But even for the future, the 2018 AL MVP winner Betts appears to be sticking around. Reports Wednesday morning said Betts and the Dodgers are close to finalizing a long-term extension.
The national sentiment is the the D-backs will be racing for second place with the Padres. Aspirations may be higher than that within the D-backs clubhouse, but if the exhibition games proved anything, it’s that the race for first won’t be easy.
“It was a little bit of a wake-up call for all of us. It wasn’t anything we planned for,” Lovullo told Arizona Sports’ Burns & Gambo on Tuesday.
“We know we didn’t have our one and two starters out there or our 1-2-3-4-5 starters out there. I don’t want to use that as an excuse, but we’ve got to make sure that we go out and, as we have in the past couple Aprils, be ready to play baseball. There’s not going to be a lot of wiggle room for any type of mistakes.”