SCOTTSDALE — Salt River Fields saw an influx of Arizona Diamondbacks pitchers and catchers on Thursday, as the Diamondbacks were the first team in baseball to start their Spring Training. Because of the regular season opener in Sydney, Australia on March 22, the Diamondbacks started early, with their first full-squad practices beginning on February 11 and their first game on February 26.
The Diamondbacks are eager to erase the memories of a second consecutive disappointment, going 81-81 and missing out on the playoffs in both 2012 and 2013. They’ve brought in Mark Trumbo, who they recently signed to a one-year deal. They’re relying on a deep pitching staff and a core group of veterans to keep the team focused on the task at hand — winning the National League West.
I think there’s a group of guys here that know exactly what they want. Last year I think we were kind of getting there, but I think we didn’t have that true leadership that really came through, and it’s the one thing I’ve seen in just talking with guys so far. There’s an idea of exactly what we want and I think we know how to implement that now.
It’s less a shot at last year’s squad and more of a motivational comment for this season. The Diamondbacks remember the pain of giving up a healthy lead in the division. They remember the agony of watching the Los Angeles Dodgers celebrating in the Chase Field pool.
They aren’t the most talented bunch in the National League West, but they have the pieces in place to be successful. If the pitching staff holds up, Paul Goldschmidt continues his meteoric rise and Miguel Montero gets back to being himself, the Diamondbacks will have a chance.
McCarthy had one more telling thing to say about the clubhouse last year:
It was just kind of a floating mentality where you weren’t locked in. It’s hard for people to emerge when you don’t have one central think that you’re bonding around. This year, I think it’s there.
Michael Dunlap is an NBA credentialed writer who is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief for the Sports Illustrated/Fansided NBA site HoopsHabit.com and the Arizona Sports site HeatWaved.com. He also covers high school sports for The Arizona Republic. Follow me on Twitter @DunlapNBA.