D-backs FAQ: Details on the upcoming season
PHOENIX -- When Spring Training opened in February, the D-backs were optimistic about their chances of returning to the postseason in 2020.
A three-month delay due to the COVID-19 worldwide pandemic has done nothing to diminish their confidence or belief.
With the announcement that Major League Baseball will open training camps on July 1 and begin a 60-game regular season around July 23, Arizona fans can once again begin dreaming of what a rotation with Madison Bumgarner at the top of it will look like.
Bumgarner, who signed a free agent deal during the offseason, is just one of the new additions that the D-backs hope will propel them into the postseason in 2020. Center fielder Starling Marte and right fielder Kole Calhoun were also key pickups.
In manager Torey Lovullo’s three years at the helm, the D-backs have been quick starters, finishing with winning records in April each year. That could help them during 2020, which will be more of a sprint than a marathon.
While they’ll try to repeat their first-month success, the D-backs will also try to avoid what has been disastrous second months. Over the past two seasons the D-backs have gone a combined 19-36 in the season’s second month.
When will camp start, and where?
Players report to camp July 1. The D-backs are in an enviable spot because their Salt River Fields Spring Training facility is close by Chase Field. That will make it easier for them to split players up between the two facilities without a great deal of travel involved. In addition, the amount of fields at Salt River allows for players to spread out and observe more social distancing.
GM Mike Hazen said the team will likely have 35 players at Chase Field for training camp and the other 25 at Salt River Fields. Once the regular season begins, the D-backs will utilize Salt River Fields for the rest of the players in the 60-man player pool who are not on the active roster.
When is Opening Day?
The schedule has not yet been finalized because it has not been approved yet by the MLB Players Association, but July 23 or 24 are the likely dates.
Which teams will be on the schedule?
In an effort to reduce travel each team will play only teams in its division and in its corresponding division in the other league. For the D-backs, this means they will play the Dodgers, Giants, Padres and Rockies each 10 times. They will also play AL West teams -- Angels, A’s, Astros, Mariners and Rangers -- four times each.
How are the D-backs’ injured players doing?
The only real injury issue the D-backs had when spring camps shut down was right-hander Mike Leake, who had a fracture of his left wrist. There was hope Leake might be ready for the original start date of the season or very soon thereafter, so he will almost certainly be ready to go now.
What are some competitions to watch when camp resumes?
The D-backs had a pretty set roster heading into camp with the biggest competitions being for the final rotation spot (if Leake was unable to go) as well as a few spots in the bullpen and a final bench player.
With a 30-man roster, most of those competitors will make the team, but the bigger thing to watch is what happens with each of the roster reductions as the weeks go on (see rules below). Will they go with fewer pitchers? Or do they cut down on bench players because of the presence of the DH?
Who will serve as the DH?
Look for Lovullo to mix and match at the DH spot, using it to give his regulars a bit of a breather. With Christian Walker at first and Eduardo Escobar slated to play third, the challenge for Lovullo was going to be getting at-bats for Jake Lamb. The DH would allow him to rotate those three players as well as put Ketel Marte in that spot occasionally to get him off his feet defensively but still keep his bat in the lineup.
The presence of the DH could also open up a spot for slugger Kevin Cron, who has mashed at Triple-A Reno, and it will also be worth keeping an eye on Yasmany Tomas, whose defense is what soured the current management on him. But he did hit 31 homers in 2016 and while he’s a long shot since he’s not on the 40-man roster, it’s not out of the question.
How will rosters be different? How will those changes affect the D-backs?
When the season starts teams will have 30-man rosters, which after two weeks will be reduced to 28 and after another two weeks down to 26, where they will remain.
Hazen said the D-backs will likely carry at least 15 pitchers and possibly even 16 to start the season since starters will not be ready to pitch deep into games. With extra spots on the bench, the D-backs could carry Cron as a pinch-hitter or DH.
How can I watch the games?
D-backs games will be broadcast on FOX Sports Arizona. Out-of-market D-backs games can be streamed LIVE on MLB.TV on your favorite supported devices.
How can I listen?
The D-backs' radio home is 98.7 FM Arizona Sports. Every Arizona broadcast can be listened to LIVE online or on the go with MLB Audio.