Arizona Diamondbacks: Manfred supports upgrades to Chase Field

Paul Goldschmidt was an eighth round of the Diamondbacks in the 2009 draft. (Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports)
Paul Goldschmidt was an eighth round of the Diamondbacks in the 2009 draft. (Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports) /

Commissioner Rob Manfred indicated Maricopa county is responsible for upgrades to Chase Field, home field of the Arizona Diamondbacks.

As far as the game of baseball is concerned, there are not a plethora of issues on the table. That was the observation of Major League Commission Rob Manfred, and that was after he made an obligatory visit to the Arizona Diamondbacks earlier this week.

The issue of upgrades to Chase Field is an entirely different issue.

While some consider the game to be different in the American League, because of the designated hitter, the essence of the game remains the same, the commissioner told Venom Strikes.

In essence, Manfred could not articulate on any major issue facing the owners and players. Yet, he told Venom Strikes that the National League will not have the DH under the present agreement. The current deal expires on Dec. 1, 2021 and until that time, expect to see Zack Grienke, Robbie Ray and all pitchers in the NL step up to the plate.

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What does interest Manfred to the possibility of losing fans. That’s in conjunction with elongated breaks, such as players stepping out of the batter’s box, trips to the mound by pitching coaches and managers, between inning breaks and time between pitches. Games now routinely run well over three hours, and the need to cut time is critical to the attraction of the game.

All fall under the category of “pace of the game,” and Manfred told Venom Strikes this whole of conditions should be addressed.

"We would like to speed up the game, and the issue of pace of game is critical. I would like to see us move forward on this."

Of greater importance to the Arizona Diamondbacks, Manfred told Venom Strikes the question of upgrades to Chase Field need to be addressed. In a facility which will celebrate its 20th anniversary next season, the Diamondbacks believe upgrades of $187 million, including a new air conditioning system and updated out-of-town scoreboards, are necessary. Maricopa county, which owns Chase Field, said they “might” consider capital improvement projects but “a wish list” of new scoreboards is regarded as cosmetic. That cost would have to be undertaken by the team.

Directly, Manfred told Venom Strikes where is precisely stands on the question.

"Critical changes (to Chase Field) have to be made. We want all teams to play in major league facilities and if (Chase Field) is not a major-league facility, we will look for another facility."

There was no immediate comment from Maricopa county commissioners.

In the trainer’s room

Right-hander Taijuan Walker threw a simulated game Wednesday afternoon, and by all conditions, things went well.

Manager Torey Lovullo told Venom Strikes that Walker threw about four innings . Walker, on the disabled list since May 21 with a blister on his hand, “threw that ball well,” Lovullo told Venom Strikes and he reached a 64 pitch count.

Lovullo pointed out that Walker’s fast command was sharp and secondary pitches effective. As with all players on the DL and recovering from injuries, the Diamondbacks do not wish to rush a player too quickly.

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Ditto for outfielder A. J. Pollock. On the DL since May 15 with a groin strain, Pollock is slow to recover. After a day of activity Wednesday, Lovullo told Venom Strikes that Pollock accelerated his running program and was considered moving at 75 percent. While Lovullo would not forecast a return for either Walker nor Pollock, he made it clear that caution is important.

"We want to play baseball here for a long time and meaningful games in August and September. For us to do that, we need our core players at important times. So, we’re not rushing any player back too soon."