Arizona Diamondbacks baseball is finally here! Pitchers and catchers have reported to Salt River Fields to begin the long road to hopefully a World Series championship this October. Optimism is flowing throughout the clubhouse as it does at the start of every Spring Training and after back-to-back 81-81 seasons the Diamondbacks are determined to make the playoffs in 2014, particularly after such a successful offseason.
Pitcher Brandon McCarthy told MLB.com that the team knows exactly what they want and the core group is determined to keep this on track. “I think there’s a group of guys here that know exactly what they want. Last year I think we were kind of getting there, but I think we didn’t have that true leadership that really came through, and it’s the one thing I’ve seen in just talking with guys so far. There’s an idea of exactly what we want and I think we know how to implement that now.”
The D’backs are looking to defy the baseball pundits and not only compete with the Los Angeles Dodgers but win the National League West just like they did in 2011. Unlike any other Spring Training held in the past, this year’s version will present some unique challenges. It’s not to often that you get Major League teams reporting to camp the week after the Super Bowl, but that is exactly what the D’backs and the division rival Dodgers are doing in 2014. That’s one of the perks of making MLB history as the two teams will begin their season in Sydney, Australia with two regular season games against each other. Both teams then come back for a week before beginning the season on March 31st. For the Snakes, the first full squad workout will be on February 11th and the first spring game takes place February 26th.
While Manager Kirk Gibson and the Dbacks are excited to go to Sydney, the challenge of regrouping when they get back will be hard. Gibson told MLB.com, “We’re excited to go to Sydney, it will be really cool to do, it’ll be good for baseball. I think we’re all excited to go.” “I think the biggest challenge will be when we return, but we’ll do what we can to make sure we recover very quickly.” Gibson also talked about inviting 67 players to camp, an unusually high amount. One thing is clear and Gibby talked about it during his media session: the D’backs don’t want to look back at 2013 and instead focus on 2014.
Nothing much occurred on the field today as players just talked and took grounders on the field during an informal practice as the pitchers and catchers began workouts. One thing is clear: Arizona is excited about 2014 and glad that the offseason is over. I expect this team to compete for the division this season and get back to having a winning record. A lot of things will determine how well they do including getting bounce back years from McCarthy, Miguel Montero and Trevor Cahill. The nice thing about today is that we don’t have to think about that quite yet. All everybody knows is that baseball is back and that is a good thing.