Diamondbacks welcome fans, expectations at FanFest

Feb 11, 2012, 11:38 PM | Updated: Feb 12, 2012, 12:29 am

The Diamondbacks had FanFest Saturday, just as they did
one year ago.

The event, which signifies the unofficial start to the
season, gives fans a chance to see the players for the
first time since the previous year.

Last time around, the mood was different. Last time
around, the Diamondbacks were coming off a couple of poor
seasons, filled with bad baseball and managerial changes.
Looking for little more than a fresh start, fans hoped the team
would simply be competitive and fun to watch while the
players wanted to learn how to win once again.

Last time around, the Diamondbacks weren’t the defending
NL West champs. This time around, they are the team
everyone is trying to catch.

They’ll take it.

“Given the choice, I think being a champion is something
you strive to be so defending is fun,” D-backs Managing
Partner Ken Kendrick said.

The last time the team was in a similar position was 2008,
when they followed up a postseason appearance by trading
away half the farm system to get Oakland’s Dan Haren.
Arizona followed a torrid April by tanking, essentially,
the next three seasons, and it took until last year to
finally turn things around.

But they’ve done it.

Though there is no official number to say how many fans
were at Chase Field Saturday, there is little doubt it was
a record turnout. Plenty of Sedona Red — and even a little
Milwaukee Brewers Blue and Gold, apparently — could be
found, with both young and old excited to see a team they
expect great things from in 2012.

Expectations? Sure, but once again, it’s better than the
alternative.

“We have all the players basically back from a year ago
when the team was a division champ and we’ve added some
players,” Kendrick said. “That’s OK, that’s what sports
is.”

But then Kendrick said the words that should make even the
most ardent D-backs fan just a bit cautious heading into
the season.

“Repeating is tougher than winning the first time.”

Kendrick knows the Diamondbacks won’t catch anyone by
surprise this year — be it opposing teams or the team’s
own fanbase — and is comfortable with the roster after an
offseason that most “experts” say was a very productive
one.

Though Arizona is returning the bulk of a roster that won
94 games last season, GM Kevin Towers went into the
offseason looking to improve. The D-backs went out and
added a front-line starter in Trevor Cahill, picked up
relievers Craig Breslow and Takashi Saito to bolster an
already solid bullpen, and brought in a big bat in the
form of outfielder Jason Kubel who, while a surprise
addition, could prove to be huge for the team.

One year ago the Arizona Diamondbacks were a team looking
for nothing more than a fresh start, but as they say, what
a difference a year can make.

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Diamondbacks welcome fans, expectations at FanFest