Snow forces D-backs across town for workout
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- When Kirk Gibson left Salt River Fields on Wednesday afternoon to take his niece and nephew to a movie, the D-backs manager told coach Mark Weidemaier to text him if anything came up with regards to the team's schedule for Thursday.
During the movie, Weidemaier sent Gibson a picture of the practice fields covered in snow.
"I thought somehow he was screwing with me," Gibson said.
But it was no joke. The rain, which had forced the D-backs to shorten their Wednesday workout and take it inside the covered batting cages, turned to snow and blanketed the fields.
The sun rose Thursday and the fields were still covered by slush and snow. Initially the D-backs thought they could just push back their workout for several hours, but it became apparent that even if the snow melted, the fields would be flooded.
D-backs general manager Kevin Towers called his counterpart with the A's, Billy Beane, and asked if the D-backs might be able to use the A's practice fields in the afternoon.
Beane agreed so long as the D-backs allowed the A's to use the designated hitter when the two teams face off Feb. 26 at Salt River Fields.
"I'd already given Bob that, so I said sure," Gibson said, referring to A's manager Bob Melvin.
The D-backs could have hit in the batting cages for a second straight day, but with a short workout Tuesday due to a team outing, they did not want to go three straight days without getting out on the fields.
"Your pitchers need to throw to live hitters, your catchers need to catch live pitching," Gibson said. "That was one of the major factors in determining whether we were going to do this or not. We need to be out on the field. We need to throw with some distance, we need to get some individual defense in today."
While the staff began calling players in the morning when it became apparent there was going to be a delay, several had already made it to the ballpark or were en route.
"I went back home and hung out with my wife and the dogs for a little bit and then came back a couple of hours later," reliever Brad Ziegler said. "It reminds me of home because we get [snow] a lot in Missouri in February and March. There's nothing you can do. We just have to make sure we get our work in so we don't fall behind."
Second baseman Aaron Hill, who typically is one of the first to arrive in the morning, was already at the ballpark.
"It's crazy," he said. "It's kind of fun, but we'll still get our work in today."
And they did with pitchers getting in their live batting-practice sessions on the A's practice fields.
"Overall the guys were patient, they did a good job, they didn't complain about it," Gibson said.
Thanks to the World Baseball Classic, Spring Training is a week longer than usual this year. So while the D-backs were not concerned about missing a day of work, they felt they needed to get Thursday in to be ready for their first Cactus League game Saturday.
The D-backs hope to be able to get back onto their practice fields Friday. If they can't, they likely will bus back over to the A's facility for a second straight day.
At this point, though, it doesn't look like the snow will impact Saturday's opener.
That game, by the way, is at Salt River Fields against the Rockies.
"The main field looks fine; it irrigates so well," said team president/CEO Derrick Hall.