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D-backs Fan Fest sets attendance mark

MLB.com @SteveGilbertMLB

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- The sun had still not risen from its slumber Saturday when fans began lining up to get into Salt River Fields for the D-backs' annual Fan Fest.

By the time the day was done, nearly 30,000 people had streamed through the gates, setting yet another attendance record for the event.

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- The sun had still not risen from its slumber Saturday when fans began lining up to get into Salt River Fields for the D-backs' annual Fan Fest.

By the time the day was done, nearly 30,000 people had streamed through the gates, setting yet another attendance record for the event.

"It's really impressive how many fans we've got out here," D-backs first baseman Paul Goldschmidt said. "This is my sixth or seventh Fan Fest, and I feel like it's grown every year."

The event used to be held at Chase Field, but a scheduling conflict one year moved it to Salt River Fields, and it has stayed there because of how much more room it provides. Saturday the team utilized two practice fields and the main stadium.

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Video: Ray, Walker, Corbin, Godley at D-backs Fan Fest

"With Salt River Fields, now we can spread out and do so much more," D-backs team president and CEO Derrick Hall said. "Free autographs and free pictures on one field, inflatables and Wiffle ball games on another. We've got fans taking batting practice in the cages where our Major League players hit each day during the spring."

D-backs pitchers and catchers began working out last Wednesday, and though the first full-squad workout isn't until Monday, position players showed up Saturday to take part in the autograph signings and fan Q&A sessions.

"Not only do they not complain about it, they're actually enthusiastic about it," Hall said. "To me that shows that they care about the fans and like to interact with the fans."

Video: Goldschmidt, Lamb, Drury attend D-backs Fan Fest

For Goldschmidt, the event signifies the beginning of baseball for the year.

"It's a good kickoff for Spring Training and the regular season," Goldschmidt said. "We don't see the fans for the whole offseason, so this is a good reminder of how excited they are and how much behind our team they are."

Hall moderated a Q&A session with general manager Mike Hazen and manager Torey Lovullo.

Video: Pollock, Peralta, Owings at D-backs Fan Fest

"Obviously we're going to look to improve the team," Hall said. "I think Mike has enough out there as far as trade possibilities and free-agent possibilities to where you'll see some moves here in the future."

The desire to win is always strong for Hall, but seeing all those fans showing up in Sedona Red on a Saturday just added more fuel to the fire.

"I hope we can deliver another winning product for them, because you can see they just crave it," Hall said. "They embrace this team, they're enthusiastic about it. That's what Fan Fest is, it's a celebration for fans and players alike."

Steve Gilbert has covered the D-backs for MLB.com since 2001. Follow him on Twitter @SteveGilbertMLB.

Arizona Diamondbacks