SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- They've talked in small groups. They've talked in larger groups. The front office has discussed it. It's a topic that kept manager Torey Lovullo up at night at times.What in the world happened to the D-backs last September when they watched the National League West Division lead
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- They've talked in small groups. They've talked in larger groups. The front office has discussed it. It's a topic that kept manager Torey Lovullo up at night at times.
What in the world happened to the D-backs last September when they watched the National League West Division lead slip away during an 8-19 finish?
There are many theories, including that they put too much pressure on themselves or got a little tight as their lead shrunk, but one thing everyone can now agree on is it's time to move on.
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The D-backs' fresh start began Monday morning during the first full-squad meeting of the spring.
"Everybody has turned the page, and it's a new year," shortstop Nick Ahmed said. "Guys had time to reflect and work on things they needed to do in the offseason. We've learned from it, and we're ready to come out stronger this year."
So, what exactly did they learn from it?
While the specifics vary depending on the player, there were a few main themes: One, sometimes trying harder makes it more difficult to be successful, especially when things are going badly.
As the division lead, and then the postseason, began to slip away, it seemed as though the players were each trying to do too much to stop the slide, instead of staying within themselves.
"It wasn't for a lack of effort that we didn't play the way we wanted to," Ahmed said. "I think, if anything, we're going to try and just relax and play our game all year. I don't think that there's one thing that we've all pinpointed and said, 'Hey, that was it.' But it's a six-month season, and you've got to be good enough for six."
Another main theme was to not pay attention to the standings, or what outside expectations there may or may not be.
"I think it also told us that we can't scoreboard watch so early," reliever Archie Bradley said. "Guys can say what they want, but it felt good being in first place the whole year, we felt great about it, but all that matters is the end of the year."
First baseman Jake Lamb got a chance to view last year's September struggles from a different vantage point, as he was on the injured list following shoulder surgery.
Again, though, the lesson Lamb got was about focus.
"One thing that we need to do as a group, and especially myself individually, is just worry about what's going on in the clubhouse and what's going on with the Arizona Diamondbacks," Lamb said. "Don't worry about the outside noise."
Lovullo emphasized the fresh start to his players during the first full-squad meeting Monday.
"For me, you know, it was probably mid-November when I wrapped it up and threw it in the trash can and learned what I learned, and I carry those lessons along with me and I think everybody is doing that collectively," Lovullo said. "We're putting that behind us."
Steve Gilbert has covered the D-backs for MLB.com since 2001. Follow him on Twitter @SteveGilbertMLB.