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5 key takeaways from D-backs Spring Training

@SteveGilbertMLB
March 16, 2020

PHOENIX -- Spring Training came to an abrupt halt last week, with Major League Baseball announcing on Monday that the regular season will be further delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic. The D-backs did get in a little more than two weeks’ worth of games, which provided us with the

PHOENIX -- Spring Training came to an abrupt halt last week, with Major League Baseball announcing on Monday that the regular season will be further delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The D-backs did get in a little more than two weeks’ worth of games, which provided us with the following five takeaways:

Bumgarner brings a presence
Signed as a free agent to a five-year, $85 million contract, it didn’t take long for Madison Bumgarner to make his presence felt.

“Just seeing the presence in the clubhouse, hearing some of the comments that were made on day one from teammates shows you that it means a lot having somebody of his stature, his accomplishment, his ability in our clubhouse,” D-backs GM Mike Hazen said. “So that’s a big one for us.”

Several D-backs pitchers have talked to Bumgarner to get his input on pitching, but even the ones that haven’t said they’ve learned just by watching how he carries himself and goes about his business on a daily basis.

This team believes
Just about every team feels good about its chances during Spring Training, but the D-backs really do. After winning a surprising 85 games last year, the front office added free agents like Bumgarner, Kole Calhoun, Junior Guerra, Stephen Vogt and Héctor Rondón while also acquiring Starling Marte via trade. That ratcheted up the team’s confidence level.

“We already kind of have a culture and a program set up of how we want guys to act and how we want guys to be, and we’re just going to continue to build that,” closer Archie Bradley said.

The competition for the final bench spot is tough
The D-backs came into camp with their starting lineup all but set with David Peralta, Starling Marte and Calhoun in the outfield and Eduardo Escobar, Nick Ahmed, Ketel Marte, Christian Walker and Carson Kelly behind the plate. Vogt, Jake Lamb, Tim Locastro and Ildemaro Vargas seemed solid bets to fill bench spots. That left one spot open, with Josh Rojas and veteran non-roster outfielder Jon Jay as the top candidates for it.

Players with health issues last year seem good to go in 2020
Based on how they finished last year there were health questions for Marte, Lamb, Peralta and right-hander Luke Weaver. All four appeared to be healthy, with Marte showing no residual effects from the stress reaction in his back last year. He started off the spring with a homer in his first at-bat and didn’t stop hitting after that. Lamb’s shoulder issue from last year appears gone and his swing was rounding into shape the last few days of camp. Peralta, too, was not hampered by the shoulder surgery he had last season. Weaver’s velocity was good, and he had no issues with his right elbow.

Ray is ready for a big year
Left-hander Robbie Ray reported to camp about 15 pounds lighter than at the end of last season, the result of a change in his diet. The lefty also tweaked his mechanics, hoping to make his delivery more fluid and improve his overall command. His results during the spring were impressive and he seemed a lot more like he was during his dominant 2017 season.

“I feel really good,” he said. “I feel strong, arm feels good, body feels good, mind is right so yeah all around I feel strong and ready to go.”

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