When the Diamondbacks’ personnel reported to training camp Wednesday, the first questions fired at players and staff dealt with off-season transactions. In particular, the name of Zack Greinke was tossed about with great frequency and utter abandon.
While the Diamondbacks have generated a great deal of interest with several high-profiled moves, the slate remains clean. The mood in the clubhouse is a controlled excitement, or as manager Chip Hale characterized their temperament in his session with the media Wednesday, “serious.”
For the first time in several seasons, the Diamondbacks find themselves in a discussion with the Giants and Dodgers as top teams in the National League West Division. Because the consensus seems more just than the usual dose of optimism each spring training, the catalysts for such temperament, Greinke, right-hander Shelby Miller and infielder Jean Segura, have yet to ignite this club. That’s because the players and staff recognize what’s before them, and now is the time to execute.
“The sky’s the limit here, and I would say in one word about the mood in here is, ‘excited,’” said reliever Andrew Chafin in the clubhouse Wednesday. “At the same time, we have to be careful and take things day by day. Just worry about today, and how we can win that game.”
In addition to trades and signings made by general manager Dave Stewart and Tony La Russa, the club’s Chief Baseball Officer, optimism is also generated from a residual effect. Last season under Hale, the Diamondbacks improved by 15 games in the NL West standings, finished second in the NL in runs scored and tied with the Mets for the third highest fielding percentage in the league. All of which has created a sense of excitement not felt in recent seasons.
Because of the high profiled additions, there is now a certain level of confidence. More than 30 players worked out at Salt River since early January, and that shows, as Hale pointed out, how committed the players are to the club and their teammates. At same time, there is a certain caution which permeates the fabric and psyche of this franchise.
Sure, the times here are different now, and the element of exhilaration seems ever-present. While there is the luxury of repeating what pundits have said and seemingly place the Diamondbacks at a seat with post-season participants, there are immediate red flags.
“We’re energized by the changes, but this has to be done on the field,” Hale said. “We haven’t won anything yet, but we are as ready as we can be to start spring training.”
From a players’ standpoint, there seems to be unguarded sense of triumph. Not that any team is ready to have that conversation, the reality of changes struck a responsive chord.
“We’re excited, and excited about everything,” said outfielder David Peralta, one of the early arrivals among position players. “We believe in our team and believe in each other. That’s the start we’re taking and me, personally, I can’t wait to get going.”
NOTES FROM THE PITCHERS/CATCHERS REPORTING DAY
The Diamondbacks expect all players to be in camp on time. Hale told reporters that no player has been held up from Latin countries because of travel or other issues. At the same, the team appears to be healthy and at 100 percent.
“We don’t have any players coming off of Tommy John surgery, or any other major injury,” Hale said. “We’re ready to go.”
The first workout for pitchers in Thursday morning. The unit of Robbie Ray, Patrick Corbin, Shelby Miller and Zack Grienke will likely get the most attention. That group throws on Friday at 9:50 am.
Position players report next Monday and the first team workout is Tuesday. Of position players in the clubhouse Wednesday were outfielders A. J. Pollock, David Peralta and shortstop Nick Ahmed.