New D-backs closer J.J. Putz stopped to sign autographs for fans on Monday at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick. Photography: Jordan Megenhardt
By Greg Dillard
For the first time in the 13-year history of the Arizona Diamondbacks, pitchers and catchers began Spring Training workouts in Scottsdale.
There was a new feel and sense of excitement surrounding Salt River Fields at Talking Stick on Monday afternoon as pitchers and catchers moved among the practice fields on day one of Spring Training.
It was a busy day for the D-backs as a clubhouse meeting kicked off the day at 8:30 a.m.
The meeting was led by new D-backs skipper Kirk Gibson, and he stressed the importance of competing.
“We’re just talking about competing,” Gibson said. “How do we do that? What does it mean to be a pitcher? For me, obviously we want to command the zone with all pitches at any time in the game. We all know that, we focus on that stuff. Fielding your position, being able to control the running game, your sequences, your picks, how to handle the bat.
“I want guys to be able to bunt. I want them to be able to slash. I would love to hit and run with them. I want them to be able to handle the bat and help themselves.”
Aside from throwing bullpens, pitchers participated in the usual Spring Training exercises such as bunting and hitting practice, PFP (pitcher’s fielding practice), pickoffs and comebackers.
“Well no matter how many times you work out, or how hard you work out in the offseason, you never can prepare for the first day,” pitcher Ian Kennedy said. “Then just going out there, standing on the field taking PFPs, running around field to field, and then to do conditioning and working out after. This complex is amazing.”
The D-backs catchers not only caught the bullpen sessions, but participated in defense and hitting drills as well.
“It was a good day, fun,” catcher Miguel Montero said. “It’s an unbelievable facility. It was good, kind of easy. I’m sweating a little bit because I’m probably out of shape. I caught a couple new guys and they looked pretty good so far. From what I see it looks great.”
While day one of pitchers and catchers consists of plenty of baseball activities, it is also a chance for the players to meet the new faces and reconnect with the returning faces.
“Just have fun,” Kennedy said. “This is the first day, first time I get to see some guys from the east coast that haven’t been here. Seeing the guys is a good thing, it’s a fun day.”
Several position players including outfielders Justin Upton, Chris Young and Xavier Nady, along with utility man Willie Bloomquist were spotted around the complex several few days before their report date.
The first full squad workout will be on Feb. 19.