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D-backs ready for first spring game

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- The D-backs open their Spring Training slate of games Saturday afternoon with a 1:05 p.m. MT game against the Rockies at Salt River Fields.

The game is the first of 37 games for the D-backs this spring, which is a week longer than usual due to the World Baseball Classic.

"I'm glad we're starting to play games," Arizona manager Kirk Gibson said. "I think we're ready for it. Hopefully we'll have good energy."

The past two springs, the D-backs have struggled in the win-loss column in large part, the organization believes, because of all the extra work put in during the weeks before games start and in the mornings after games start.

This year, Gibson has had his team work hard for two straight days and then scheduled a much lighter day, or what he calls a recovery day, to try to keep everyone's legs fresh.

In the initial games, Gibson will look to get all his players acclimated to playing a few innings at a time. He also has to make sure that the players who will be participating in the Classic are ready to go even earlier than others.

"I'm just trying to get everybody in, get them in the game and keep them healthy," Gibson said. "When you go up for your first at-bat, you're pretty pumped up, you haven't been there in a while. So I want to get them comfortable in their positions, on the bases and in the batter's box, in the clubhouse and within our system, and then we start to figure things out. There's a long way to go."

Saturday is the first step on that journey.