SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- D-backs players had been working out at Salt River Fields for a few weeks this offseason when they noticed a big difference.
"We were kind of joking around, but we keep looking around like, 'When are the guys going to come in?'" reliever Archie Bradley said. "And like, we are the guys. You know what I mean? And I think we're all starting to realize that."
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The "guys" that Bradley and his teammates were looking for included longtime D-backs like left-hander Patrick Corbin, first baseman Paul Goldschmidt, outfielder A.J. Pollock and infielder Chris Owings, who all left the organization this offseason.
Each of the four had contributed not only on the field, but also as leaders in the clubhouse.
"It's weird not to have a lot of the guys," Bradley said. "Paul's one of them, but Corbin, Pollock, C.O., all these guys. We've literally played together seven, eight years and in the big leagues for our whole careers. It's definitely a change, but at the same time we all realize it's part of the game."
And as pitchers and catchers begin their first official workout of the spring on Wednesday morning, one of the biggest questions facing the organization is who will fill the leadership vacuum.
"I would hope that players would look at it as an opportunity to sort of step into the void that Paul has always provided in leadership and his presence and his example that he has set," D-backs general manager Mike Hazen said. "We have other players that I think are very capable of taking on a lot of those responsibilities. I don't know that any one person is going to do it right away, but I think the group of them together."
Players like Bradley, Jake Lamb, outfielder David Peralta and shortstop Nick Ahmed have been around for a number of years now and will likely contribute to the team's leadership. Eduardo Escobar and Steven Souza Jr., veterans who joined the team last year, also could take on more of a role as well.
Lamb missed most of last season due to injury and said he learned a lot from the experience of watching the season from a different perspective.
"I feel like I've grown up a lot, so I am ready to take that role," Lamb said. "By no means is it going to be my team. I think with our team now we have a group of leaders and it's going to be on us to lead this team."
The organization has invested in helping where it can, adding a mental skills department and researching ways to improve leadership.
"We spent a lot of time this offseason talking about that exact subject," Hazen said. "How do we cultivate it? How do we empower guys to do that? How we implore guys to contribute to that? And I think they did it in the past, so it's not like it wasn't happening; it's that now without Paul here, it's going to be different."