D-backs Spring Training FAQ, dates to know

February 18th, 2021

The D-backs are no different than most of the country in that 2020 is a year they'd just as soon forget.

After finishing last in the National League West with a 25-35 record, which included a 2-18 stretch at the midway point, the D-backs are eager to turn the page to 2021.

That process began Wednesday, when pitchers and catchers had their first workout at Salt River Fields. As camp gets underway, let's take a look at some frequently asked questions.

When is the first Spring Training game?
The D-backs will be the road team against the Rockies on Feb. 28 at Salt River Fields, the Spring Training facility that the two teams share. Game time is 1:10 p.m. MST. The D-backs don’t actually play a game away from Salt River Fields until March 3, when they take on the Indians at Goodyear Ballpark.

Are the workouts open to fans?
Due to COVID-19 restrictions, there will be no fan access for workouts. That includes morning workouts once the Cactus League gets underway. In short, the only access at Salt River Fields for fans will be in the main stadium.

When will Spring Training and regular-season tickets go on sale?
Spring Training tickets will go on sale Saturday, Feb. 20. It has not yet been determined when regular-season tickets will go on sale.

Are there any injuries of note heading into camp?
The D-backs appear to be healthy, with right-hander Merrill Kelly apparently on track to be ready after having thoracic outlet surgery late last season. Otherwise, there were no real injury issues that have come up this winter.

Who is the likely Opening Day starting pitcher?
This is usually a waiting game with manager Torey Lovullo all spring, as he typically holds off until later in camp to make a formal announcement even when the choice is obvious. Madison Bumgarner figures to get the nod again this year. While Zac Gallen had the best season last year among the starters, the D-backs signed Bumgarner to lead the rotation, and that is usually the person who starts on Opening Day.

What are some of the roster battles to watch this year?
It will be very interesting to see how the D-backs sort out their infield after first baseman Christian Walker and shortstop Nick Ahmed. If Ketel Marte begins the year in center as expected, then the D-backs would be looking for someone to replace him at second. Newly signed Asdrúbal Cabrera is a likely candidate, but Eduardo Escobar could also shift there if they want to play Cabrera at third.

Then there's the battle for the backup infield spots (or starting spot at second) with Josh Rojas, Josh VanMeter, Andy Young and Wyatt Mathisen. There are a lot of different combinations and possibilities that will need to be sorted out during the spring.

What about the pitching staff?
The rotation for now appears like it will be Bumgarner, Gallen, Kelly, Luke Weaver and Caleb Smith. The bullpen ... well, that's where there's going to be a lot of competition.

Assuming Joakim Soria is the closer and Stefan Crichton makes the team based on what he did last year, the rest of the spots are less certain, and there figures to be fierce battles for them.

Who are some prospects to keep an eye on in camp?
Catcher Daulton Varsho and first baseman Pavin Smith (No. 27) got their first taste of the big leagues last year and are hoping to win spots this spring. Right-hander Corbin Martin (No. 6), whom the D-backs acquired from the Astros in the Zack Greinke trade, should be fun to watch. Martin did not pitch last spring as he recovered from Tommy John surgery, but he is healthy and the team is eager to see him against big league hitters.

When is Opening Day, and who is the opponent?
For the second year in a row the D-backs will open the regular season against the Padres in San Diego, on April 1. The 1:10 p.m. MST game is the first of a four-game set against the Friars, which will be followed by three games against the Rockies in Denver.

The D-backs' home opener will be April 9, against the Reds at 6:40 p.m. MST.