ARIZONA DIAMONDBACKS

Arizona Diamondbacks’ Tony La Russa: Experts don’t understand how talented team is

Apr 1, 2015, 7:53 PM | Updated: Apr 2, 2015, 3:29 am

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LISTEN: Tony La Russa, D-backs Chief Baseball Officer

Last season, the Arizona Diamondbacks finished with an MLB-worst 64-98 record.

They fired their manager and general manager, then went about remaking the roster.

In less than a week, the team will officially open its 2015 campaign. Asked what he thinks will surprise people most about the team this season, chief baseball officer Tony La Russa said just how good this team will be.

No, this is not an April Fool’s Day joke.

“I think that you compare us to any team that you’re going to see, whether you see American League on TV or watch them come play us,” he told Doug and Wolf on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM Wednesday. “The combination of skills, the comprehensive skills of our everyday players, I think we match up with anybody as far as having complete players who can play defense, and have good athleticism, which means you’ll see them running balls down. On the bases, we’re an exciting base running team.”

La Russa, who is entering his first full season on the job, also said the D-backs have some live bats, which will lead to line drives and extra base hits.

“I really believe that the experts don’t understand how solid our position player squad can be,” he said. “And we have some depth, too.”

La Russa is confident the team has enough talent to be able to withstand some injuries or slumps.

But while Arizona may have a nice collection of position players, there are valid questions about the pitching staff. The starting rotation, which was named earlier in the week, has little in the way of proven aces.

“I think the biggest thing is the developing pitching staff,” La Russa said. “I give our front office a lot of credit. We’ve refreshed the power and the athleticism in our rotation, and you see it not just in the big leagues, but you see it if you look at the Double-A and Triple-A pitching staffs.

“The pitching is a work in progress only in the extent that it’s going to get better and better. I think that’s very exciting for the future, but I think it’s underestimated by many.”

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