Players like Paul Goldschmidt and Zack Greinke are the core foundation of the Arizona Diamondbacks. They know how to deliver results and help carry a team.
While there is a month before the curtain rises on the Major League baseball season, there was a glimpse of what hopefuls can expect from the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Two of the marquee players for this organization and each with a storied history showed how they could carry a team. Coaches, officials, and pundits tend to point out that players of exceptional talent and experience can elevate the abilities of those around them, and there was a clear event here early in spring training.
In his first outing of the spring, Greinke pitched into the second inning and faced six hitters. While teams remain in the embryonic stage of spring training, Greinke’s work ethic and habits were on display Friday and foreshadow the kind of contribution he can make.
Given his work schedule and preparation criteria, Greinke was held out of one start at the beginning of spring games. With his first work on March 3 against the Los Angeles Dodgers, that sets Greinke up to open the season against the Giants at Chase Field on April 2.
Until then, Greinke will ramp up his activity in preparation for the marathon ahead. Against the Dodgers Friday afternoon in Salt River, Greinke allowed one walk and a single among the 37 pitches (17 for strikes) and the six hitters he faced.
"“Things went all right,” Grienke told Venom Strikes afterward. “Some things went okay and some things did not. Overall, it was decent. Next time, I’ll probably throw another inning and get the pitch count up to about 45 or so. It’s part of the build-up process. I’m looking for consistency. Fast ball command is first."
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At this point, it’s all about fast ball command. Starters for the Diamondbacks this spring have all stressed the need to use both sides of the plate and the importance of a first pitch strike. Greinke is no different.
If Greinke can deliver based on past performance and exalted expectations, Goldschmidt is not far behind. Coming off a .297 season with 24 homers and 95 RBIs, Goldschmidt’s offensive skills remains as prodigious as Greinke’s ability to shut down opponents.
Against the Dodgers, Goldschmidt displayed how he could carry a team. Reaching right-hander Brandon McCarthy for a two-run homer over the right field fence in the opening inning, Goldschmidt came back against L. A. reliever Fabio Castillo in the third with a bases-loaded, two-run single for two more RBIs. That pushed the Diamondbacks into a four-run advantage and from there, Arizona beat the Dodgers, 15-3 before a sell-out crowd of 11,079 at Salt River.
The 15 runs were the largest run production for Arizona this spring. Previously, they beat the Texas Rangers, 8-4 on Feb. 28.
In his first five spring games, Goldschmidt is 6-for-12 with six RBIs.
Goldschmidt is not alone in the production department. After the Diamondbacks’ initial eight games this spring, infielder Reymond Fuentes leads the team in hitting with a .714 (5-for-7) average and tied with Goldschmidt with a club-leading six RBIs.
Not so fast
After Friday’s game, manager Torey Lovullo told Venom Strikes that cuts are not anticipated in the coming days. As well, he continued, there is no timetable for roster reductions.
"“I know some sports, like the NFL and NBA, have dates,” Lovullo told Venom Strikes. “We want to wait for as long as possible to get players ready.”"
Lovullo also indicated the Diamondbacks will not play any “B” games this spring, but may have an intra-squad game within the coming days.
For Arizona, the spring slate resume Saturday in Peoria. That’s when the Diamondbacks take on the San Diego Padres. Left-hander Patrick Corbin gets the start and his mound opponent is to be determined.
On Sunday, the Diamondbacks return to Salt River to face the Chicago White Sox. Right-hander Taijuan Walker gets his second start of the spring and draws righty Reynaldo Lopez as his opponent.