Sweeney Fighting for Spot, D-backs Sell Out SRF Opener


Photography: Jordan Megenhardt


By Greg Dillard


In just three days, the Arizona Diamondbacks and Colorado Rockies will play in the first ever game at Salt River Fields.


The D-backs announced today that the opening game is sold out, with a full house expected to be in attendance.  


It is sure to be an exciting environment come Saturday afternoon for not only the fans, but the players and coaches as well.


After several days of practice, the D-backs are eager to compete in a game.  


“I remember what it was like as a player,” D-backs manager Kirk Gibson said. “You get up there without the turtle around you, it feels way different without the batting cage. You’re a pitcher and there’s no screen there, that’s different. The fans will be there. It will pump them up.


Salt River Fields figures to not only to be packed on Saturday, but all season long. The D-backs announced that 120,000 tickets have been sold for their 17 home games.


Following Saturday’s opener, the D-backs will take on the defending world champion San Francisco Giants on Sunday and the Rockies again on Monday afternoon.


Sweeney fighting for job in bullpen


Brian Sweeney is one of the several relievers fighting for a job in the D-backs bullpen this spring. Sweeney is a non-roster invitee to Spring Training, but is familiar with the challenges of fighting for a roster spot.


“It’s something I’m used to,” Sweeney said. “Every year of my career, it’s always been a competition. You want the team to succeed, and hopefully you can be a piece of that puzzle to help the team succeed. It’s something I’ve been doing for awhile. I do embrace it.”


Sweeney has spent parts of four seasons in the Major Leagues with both the San Diego Padres and Seattle Mariners. Last season, Sweeney notched a 3.16 ERA in 37 innings for the Mariners.


While camp is only in its second week, Sweeney is pleased with what he’s seen so far.


“I really like the atmosphere of camp right now,” Sweeney said. “The management the team, everybody’s working hard. With the great meeting this morning with the Seals and everything, it’s been a good start.”


Navy Seals visit D-backs


Before Wednesday morning workouts began, the D-backs received a visit from US Navy Seals.


The visiting members spoke to the entire team on a variety of topics including mental toughness.  

“It’s pretty awesome,” Sweeney said. “To see what they go through and to relate it to our journey as well, it gets you really in the right mindset. What they have to go through compared to what we have to go through it’s not really the same thing, but in order to compete at what they’re doing you need to be elite. To be elite as a baseball player, you have to have that same kind of mindset. To hear them speak that way, it’s pretty cool.”


D-backs hit the links


After tomorrow’s workout, D-backs players and coaches are hitting the fairways and greens in a team golf outing.


Gibson estimated that more than 40 people are attending the event. Before the golfing begins, the team will hold a workout in the morning.


“It’ll be shorter, and then we’re going to go play golf at one o’clock,” Gibson said. “Shorter hitting, do a fundamental segment, a situational segment, kind of a lighter day. Kind of a recovery day, and we’ll get after it on Friday.”


On Friday, the busy Spring Training game schedule kicks off for the D-backs when they face off against the Giants. Thursday’s golf event provides the team with a chance to relax before games begin.


“We’re trying to do something together, and spend some time together before we get after it,” Gibson said.


KTAR Broadcasting from SRF


D-backs radio partner KTAR has been broadcasting their shows all day at Salt River Fields this week. They’ve had several D-backs on air, with many more to come:


J.J. Putz on Doug & Wolf


Ian Kennedy on Doug & Wolf


Daron Sutton on with Doug & Wolf


Kelly Johnson on with Gambo & Ash


Kirk Gibson on with Gambo & Ash


Charles Nagy on with Doug & Wolf


Melvin Mora on with Doug & Wolf


Daniel Hudson on with Gambo & Ash


Wednesday images from D-backs photographer Jordan Megenhardt:http://www.flickr.com/apps/slideshow/show.swf?v=71649


I really hope Sweeney does make the team. I interviewed him last summer as a member of the Mariners and I know how hard he has worked in his career. He has a good mind for the game and a really great changeup too!


I haven’t been around Sweeney all that much yet, but from what I can tell, he does seem like a nice, down-to-earth guy. There are always people every spring that make an impression on me (Ryan Roberts two years ago, for example; Cole Gillespie last year) for being really positive, approachable people. I root for those types of guys to make clubs, too.
~G. Salvatore

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