D-backs focus on defense; Peralta homers again

March 22nd, 2022

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- There were a lot of things about the 110-loss 2021 season that bothered D-backs manager Torey Lovullo, but none more so than the defensive struggles.

"That's what I'm about at my core," Lovullo said of defense.

This spring, he is taking no chances as the D-backs are going back to the basics when it comes to fielding.

“I know what we looked like last year defensively, and that’s unacceptable to me,” Lovullo said. “So we had to go back. I’m not going to assume anybody knows anything. We’re going to start at A and get to Z, and we’re going to get every letter in between.”

Rookies and veterans are getting the same treatment. The coaching staff has gone so far as to define what a "routine" ground ball is. In case you're wondering, Lovullo said that for a third baseman a routine grounder is between 84-86 mph and for a middle infielder it's 88 mph.

"And we want to hit up a lot of key points that I felt like got away from us [last year]," Lovullo said. "Such as glove position, angles to the baseball, hip mobility, opening up, transitioning to the baseball with good posture. Those basic things. We're breaking it down to the most granular level that we possibly can."

The D-backs are also practicing "fast," meaning that instead of a coach tossing a ball in the air and hitting fungoes, they are getting the ball flipped to them and hitting it, which makes for more unpredictability and a faster grounder.

"We're definitely training faster, which I like," shortstop Nick Ahmed said. "I think there's a tendency to want to just take a routine fungo and get comfortable out there. But if you don't challenge yourself in your [pregame] work, you're never going to be ready for the game. So I'm all about it. I like what we're doing."

Slimmer Freight Train
Left fielder David Peralta, who altered his mechanics at the plate during the offseason, has also slimmed down a bit as he enters the 2022 season at age 34.

Peralta has long been into fitness, and his past offseason work usually included work with heavy weights. This time around, though, he focused less on the weight and more on flexibility and his core.

"I need to be more athletic, more flexible and strong at the same time," Peralta said. "Every year you learn more about your body. What do you need? And at this point in my career, I don't need to be like crazy heavy lifting and all that kind of stuff."

Peralta homered for the second time in as many games in Monday afternoon's 9-1 win over the Mariners.

Bumgarner debut
D-backs left-hander Madison Bumgarner will make his first Cactus League appearance Tuesday afternoon against the Rangers at Salt River Fields.

If Bumgarner were to start every fifth day after that, he would line up to start Opening Day against the Padres on April 7.

Lovullo likes to wait until the final week of Spring Training to officially announce who will be his Opening Day starter, and he wasn't going to take the bait when it was pointed out to him that Bumgarner is on pace to start it.