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D-backs hold Evening on the Diamond event

Club raises record $3 million for Arizona Diamondbacks Foundation
Special to MLB.com

PHOENIX -- Saturday was about unwinding for the Arizona Diamondbacks, a night to have a nice dinner with teammates, spouses, staff and community and corporate partners, bid on unique sports memorabilia and experiences for a good cause and listen to live music.

The D-backs celebrated their 12th annual Evening On The Diamond at Chase Field, where they'll play two exhibition games against the Indians on Monday and Tuesday before Opening Day Thursday night.

PHOENIX -- Saturday was about unwinding for the Arizona Diamondbacks, a night to have a nice dinner with teammates, spouses, staff and community and corporate partners, bid on unique sports memorabilia and experiences for a good cause and listen to live music.

The D-backs celebrated their 12th annual Evening On The Diamond at Chase Field, where they'll play two exhibition games against the Indians on Monday and Tuesday before Opening Day Thursday night.

But hours after their two split-squad Spring Training games ended Saturday, baseball took a back seat to silent and live auctions, recognition of community leaders and the music of country music star Chris Lane.

"There's so much that goes on behind the scenes that we don't really know much about," manager Torey Lovullo said. "When you sit down with people at the table and you converse, you realize this is a very special event, and it's a way to connect."

The benefit, which is celebrated every year near the end of Spring Training, raised a record $3 million for the Arizona Diamondbacks Foundation, club vice president of corporate and community impact Debbie Castaldo said.

"This is an opportunity right before the season starts for us to get together for our largest fundraiser of the year," Castaldo said. "All of our Diamondbacks players are here, our coaches are here, our ownership group, and the rest of the crowd are unbelievable philanthropists, corporate partners and friends of the community to not only celebrate the start of baseball, but to raise a whole lot of money."

Players carried forward the country and western theme that was a hit at last year's event, with most wearing cowboy attire. The early part of the night was spent browsing through hundred of items and activities to bid on, including autographed NFL helmets, D-backs players' memorabilia, ringside seats to a WWE event in Phoenix next January, old Yankee Stadium seats, a guitar signed by rock legend Tom Petty and a photo of Buddha from Hall-of-Fame-pitcher-turned-photographer Randy Johnson.

D-backs pitcher Archie Bradley had his phone out looking for items on which to place a bid. He could be the club's closer after a stellar 2017 season out of the bullpen. But on Saturday night, he donated a golf outing with teammate Taijuan Walker for charity.

"Seeing if there's anything I can get a deal on," Bradley said with a smile. "All the money's going to a good place. Trying to help and give back a little bit."

Bradley was busy before Spring Training, making the rounds at different Phoenix-area sports events and sharing his experiences on social media.

"It's fun to do this with teammates," Bradley said. "The season's getting ready to start, these are the guys that we're getting ready to spend a lot of time with."

Many other players on Arizona's roster were also in attendance. Pitcher Zack Godley wore an American flag-pattern button-down shirt with the sleeves cut off, on the same day he'd pitched seven innings of two-hit ball against the Royals in his final start of the Cactus League season.

Stars Paul Goldschmidt and Zack Greinke were there, as were third baseman Jake Lamb, new relief pitcher Yoshihisa Hirano, outfielders David Peralta, Steven Souza Jr. and A.J. Pollock, infielders Ketel Marte and Daniel Descalso and pitcher Patrick Corbin, who was earlier announced as the D-backs' Opening Day starter.

"I've been doing this every year since I've been here," said Corbin, who has been with the D-backs since 2010. "Just a fun night before the season starts and gets going. We try to have fun with it. We have a great group of guys, and some dress like this every day … so they're just in their zone."

Players were assigned tables with community members, rather than sitting with each other. The night raises money for all the grants the team provides to nonprofit groups, Little League programs and programs to end hunger.

The foundation will dedicate its first food pantry on April 20.

"A lot of the generosity of this event comes from our players themselves," Castaldo said.

Jose M. Romero is a contributor to MLB.com.

Arizona Diamondbacks