Mega Dogs and young players highlight Diamondbacks’ spring

Mar 10, 2016, 11:03 AM
Arizona Diamondbacks' Socrates Brito watches his RBI double against the Los Angeles Angels during t...

Arizona Diamondbacks' Socrates Brito watches his RBI double against the Los Angeles Angels during third inning of a spring baseball game in Scottsdale, Ariz., Tuesday, March 8, 2016. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)

(AP Photo/Chris Carlson)
LISTEN: Derrick Hall, Diamondbacks president and CEO

Cactus League play for the Arizona Diamondbacks is off to a mega start, highlighted by another concoction behind the concession stand.

“The Mega Dog has pulled pork, chili, mac and cheese,” Diamondbacks President and CEO Derrick Hall told Doug and Wolf on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM Thursday morning. “I see people eating through it, sweating on their poor heads, just another novelty here at Salt River Fields.”

A novelty for fans’ consumption, Hall says the Mega Dog has taken off during spring training. The CEO highlights a new addition to the team taking off as well.

“I think Jean Segura has had an eye-opening spring for everybody,” Hall said. “He looks great. The beauty of Segura is he can play short or second, and with the infield depth that we have and the decisions to make, that’s going to be easier for us.”

Arizona has an abundance of young players vying for a starting job. The acquisition of Segura from the Milwaukee Brewers has crowded the middle of the infield with Nick Ahmed and Chris Owings. Brandon Drury’s spring performance has also forced his name into the infield conversation as well.

“I think just like last spring, Brandon Drury came in here and tore up the Cactus League, and he’s doing it again, Hall said. “The guy just shows he can hit at any level, he’s batting over .430, driving in key runs and playing well defensively at second and third. He’s making a strong case for himself.”

Headlines for the Diamondbacks during spring have gravitated around the arrival of ace Zack Greinke, but Hall has been impressed with the performance of the younger players.

“Socrates Brito, who proved at the end of last year that he belongs up here, Brito continues to tear the cover off the ball,” Hall said. “He’s hitting over .580, he’s playing center field, right field and left field, showing that he can run, he’s a five-tool guy. I’m really excited about some of the new faces out there.”

Brito emerged last season, appearing in 18 games and hitting .303. His continued offensive explosion early on in Cactus League play has put pressure on Cuban outfielder Yasmany Tomás.

“He knows he’s competing for a job, and with these guys playing as well as they are, like Brito or a young Gabby Guerrero, these guys are pushing him,” Hall said. “They’re all getting an opportunity right now, because Tomás isn’t playing and we have A.J. Pollock on the mend with a sore elbow. We’re watching these guys, and at some point they’re going to help us on the roster, whether it’s to start the season or god forbid an injury. Tomás knows it’s a good competition, but he’s worked hard over the offseason to stay in shape. It’s his second season so it should be an easier transition, he’s seen these pitchers and these ballparks, so I think it’s going to get easier for him, but he’s gotta get healthy and he’s gotta get out there consistently.”

Tomás experienced discomfort in his left knee during hitting drills Wednesday. The outfielder was scratched from Thursday’s contest, and is listed day-to-day.

“He does have soreness right now in his knee, I think it’s much better,” Hall said. “He hasn’t played since we’ve played over the weekend. He’s been rehabbing it, and I think he will be back in the lineup very soon, maybe even by tomorrow or this weekend.”

Another Diamondback has also not performed to expectations. Paul Goldschmidt is batting a mere .250 with only two RBI.

“He’s just terrible,” Hall said with a chuckle. “It’s obvious he’s a different player now. No, with Goldy, we asked the same thing last year during spring. What’s important with Goldy is he’s having good at-bats, he’s hitting the ball hard, staying in there, hitting it to people. Then he comes up in a key situation early yesterday with a runner on third, less than two outs and he sends a deep sac fly to center field and gets the job done. That’s who Goldy is, he’s getting his work in, he looks good, his attitude is great. He’s not panicking, we’re not panicking. We know who he is, and we know he’ll be ready to go.”

Between the emergence of the Mega Dog and exciting young players, Diamondbacks fans have had plenty to digest during the first week of spring training. Hall anticipates the excitement will continue through spring.

“I expect sellouts from here on out,” Hall said. “We’ve had very good crowds, a lot of excitement. The buzz out there, the energy out there is tremendous.”

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Mega Dogs and young players highlight Diamondbacks’ spring