ARIZONA DIAMONDBACKS

Diamondbacks return to spring training with focus on standard over expectations

Feb 14, 2024, 3:12 PM

Eduardo Rodriguez...

Arizona Diamondbacks pitcher Eduardo Rodriguez throws a bullpen during spring training at Salt River Fields. (Arizona Sports Photo/Alex Weiner)

(Arizona Sports Photo/Alex Weiner)

SCOTTSDALE — Arizona Diamondbacks pitchers and catchers reported to Salt River Fields on Wednesday for the start of spring training, although it certainly wasn’t the first day in the building for most players.

Pitcher Ryne Nelson spent his entire offseason working with coaches at the facility, and fellow pitcher Zac Gallen said he felt like spring training has been going on for a week with 90% of the team already working.

Gallen added that after Arizona’s World Series loss to the Texas Rangers he could not wait to get to spring training, which evidently rang true for most of the team.

“I think there’s maybe seven or eight guys who have not arrived yet,” manager Torey Lovullo said. “We know who they are, and they’ve told us they’re going to spend as much time as they can with their families. I support that. I didn’t give my full Day 1 welcoming speech. But I looked around that room and I saw a ton of position players in there. If we’re looking at about 90% of the roster that have been here already — I think it’s been that way for several days — that speaks volumes about how committed these guys are.

“They’re hungry. They’re very hungry.”

 

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Walking into the building, there’s some new decor, highlighted by a large photo of the Diamondbacks celebrating their NLCS triumph at Citizens Bank Park. Even the backdrop for Lovullo’s press conference was decorated with National League champions logos.

There won’t be any avoiding it for the defending NL champs, although Lovullo didn’t care for that phrase since 2024 is a clean slate.

The 2023 Diamondbacks squad fully dove into the underdog mantra in the postseason and took it all the way to the World Series. Lovullo said no one can take that accomplishment away, but that the Diamondbacks have not won anything in 2024. There’s a balance between appreciating the ride and moving forward without complacency.

“It’s a good remembrance of what we did last year, but for me, it’s more of a reminder what we didn’t accomplish, finishing the job,” Gallen said. “It’s something to be proud of, but it’s a new season, we got to finish the job.”

“If we’re satisfied with getting into the World Series and getting that close, then we’re in the wrong profession,” Lovullo said. “We have set a standard here, I’m not going to talk about expectations, I’m not really going to use that word, that can be a dangerous word. You’re going to set yourself up for limitations or failure. I’m going to talk about a standard, we have set a standard here on what it means to be an Arizona Diamondback.”

Earn the inch, win the margins, sacrifice, be better today; we’ve heard it, and that messaging will not change. “I don’t want to go any further than that, I want to focus on today. That seems to work for this organization,” Lovullo added.

Lovullo said he spent a fair amount of time alone this offseason to dissect what went well and what didn’t in 2023. He didn’t make it out camping nor sucked his thumb, although he appreciates the ice cream fans sent his way.

He watched the Super Bowl on Sunday and was fixated on San Francisco 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan walking off the field after a loss to the Kansas City Chiefs.

Lovullo felt that pain, one he emotionally addressed after a Game 5 loss to the Rangers at Chase Field to end the run, but he also thought back on how much it takes to reach that level.

“Maybe that was the last thing that I needed before coming here so I could totally turn the page,” he said.

New faces intertwined with a familiar group in the clubhouse and on the field, with free agent signee Eduardo Rodriguez throwing a bullpen alongside young arms Brandon Pfaadt, Tommy Henry and Ryne Nelson on Wednesday. Scott McGough and Henry were back on the hill after injuries ended their seasons early, and Corbin Martin was healthy and pitching after missing all of 2023.

Full squads officially report on Monday, and games begin on Feb. 23.

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