With Spring Training fast approaching, MLB.com will take a look at a different aspect of this year's D-backs squad each day this week. Today's topic: Spring Training is here.SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- New D-backs manager Torey Lovullo has not had a lot of time to spend around his players, but what
With Spring Training fast approaching, MLB.com will take a look at a different aspect of this year's D-backs squad each day this week. Today's topic: Spring Training is here.
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- New D-backs manager Torey Lovullo has not had a lot of time to spend around his players, but what he has seen so far during early workouts at Salt River Fields has him excited for Monday, when pitchers and catchers report for Spring Training.
"Watching these guys, I've noticed a couple of things," Lovullo said. "First, there's a lot of talent on both sides of the ball. Second, these guys know one another, care about one another, and for the most part, grew up in this organization together. That's a powerful thing. You can see it in the way they communicate with one another and the way they compete with one another that they care about one another, and that's really important for the success of our organization."
:: Spring Training 2017 preview ::
There have been plenty of changes since the end of last season's disappointing 69-93 campaign, with the most notable coming off the field.
General manager Dave Stewart and manager Chip Hale are gone, and Tony La Russa has seen his power over the baseball operations department taken away.
Mike Hazen takes over for Stewart and Lovullo's staff sports several new faces in bench coach Ron Gardenhire, third-base coach Tony Perezchica, bullpen coach Mike Fetters, quality control/catching coach Robby Hammock and assistant hitting coach Tim Laker.
The external expectations have also changed significantly from last season, when Arizona was looked at as a contender in the National League West. This year, most pundits seem to count the D-backs out, but internally there is still optimism that they can contend for a postseason berth.
"We're going to compete every night and see where that takes us," Lovullo said. "We feel very strongly that we have the right types of players and the right type of team that will allow us to go out there and be competitive every single night."
Here's a look a look at the Spring Training picture for the D-backs as camp opens.
Pitcher/catcher Report: Monday
First Full-Squad Workout: Friday
First Spring Training Game: Home vs. Grand Canyon University on Feb. 22 at 1:10 p.m. MST
First Cactus League Game: Home vs. Rockies on Feb. 25 at 1:10 p.m. MST
New Faces: RHP Tyler Jones, RHP Fernando Rodney, RHP Taijuan Walker, C Jeff Mathis, C Chris Iannetta, INF Daniel Descalso, INF Ketel Marte, INF Ildemaro Vargas and OF Jeremy Hazelbaker
Rodney was brought in to close games and buy time for the organization's younger relievers to develop in less-pressurized roles. Marte, who was acquired along with Walker from the Mariners, will battle for the starting shortstop job. Jones, a Rule 5 Draft selection from the Yankees, will be part of what figures to be a wide-open competition for bullpen spots.
Interesting Non-Roster Invitees: RHP J.J. Hoover, RHP Keyvius Sampson, OF Gregor Blanco
Blanco's left-handed bat and ability to play all three outfield positions could give him a leg up in the competition for a bench spot. Hoover and Sampson are both intriguing candidates in the bullpen competition.
Prospects to Watch: RHP Jimmy Sherfy, RHP Braden Shipley, OF Socrates Brito, LHP Jared Miller
Brito's strong spring last year helped earn him a spot on the Opening Day roster. He and Blanco figure to battle for a backup outfield spot. Sherfy was outstanding last season, and with all the openings in the bullpen, he could be one to watch. Miller was dominating in the Arizona Fall League after opening last year in the Midwest League, and Shipley showed flashes of his potential while with the D-backs last season.
Steve Gilbert has covered the D-backs for MLB.com since 2001. Follow him on Twitter @SteveGilbertMLB.