Diamondbacks insider Nick Piecoro and Jay Dieffenbach talk about the upcoming baseball season. The lineup appears to be solid. What about the pitching staff? Video: Cheryl Evans/azcentral sports
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Diamondbacks right-hander Zack Greinke gave up three runs in five-plus innings against the Chicago Cubs. He believes he is making progress toward Opening Day. Nick Piecoro/azcentral sports
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USA TODAY Sports’ Jorge L. Ortiz breaks down the key headlines to watch during the final week of spring training.
USA TODAY Sports
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USA TODAY Sports’ Bob Nightengale poses these questions that will be answered in the MLB regular season.
USA TODAY Sports
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USA TODAY Sports’ Jorge L. Ortiz recaps the championship between USA and Puerto Rico at Dodger Stadium.
USA TODAY Sports
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Shot Clock: Why isn’t Paul Goldschmidt playing? Will Cardinals draft QB Mitchell Trubisky? Kurt Warner also had a Super Bowl jersey stolen? The Shot Clock tackles the burning topics in Arizona sports.
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Diamondbacks left-hander Robbie Ray gave up two runs in five innings, walking one and striking out six, vs. the Royals on Tuesday. (Nick Piecoro/azcentral sports)
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Diamondbacks right-hander Zack Greinke gave up one run in five innings against the Netherlands on Saturday.
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Diamondbacks right-hander Shelby Miller struck out eight in 3 1/3 innings vs. the Mariners but wasn’t efficient with his pitches.
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Diamondbacks lefty Robbie Ray gave up two earned runs — both on a first-inning homer — in four innings against the Brewers on Thursday.
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Arizona Diamondbacks ace Zack Greinke comments on his side session to minor leaguers at Salt River Fields on Mar. 13, 2017. By Rob Schumacher/azcentral sports
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Diamondbacks lefty Patrick Corbin gave up three runs in 3 1/3 innings against the White Sox but came away sounding upbeat. Video: Nick Piecoro/azcentral sports
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Right-hander Taijuan Walker struck out eight in four scoreless innings for the Diamondbacks on Friday vs. the Brewers.
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Diamondbacks right-hander Zack Greinke’s fastball was in the upper-80s on Wednesday at Salt River Fields.
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Diamondbacks starter Shelby Miller lasted 2 2/3 innings against the A’s, giving up six runs, on Tuesday. Scott Bordow/azcentral sports
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Arizona Diamondbacks RHP Taijuan Walker gave up just one hit in three scoreless innings against the White Sox on Sunday, Mar. 5, 2017. (Nick Piecoro/azcentral sports)
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Diamondbacks starter Patrick Corbin, who is vying for a spot in the rotation, gave up two runs in three innings against the Padres on Saturday in Peoria.
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Diamondbacks right-handed Shelby Miller talks about his impressive outing vs. the Cubs. Miller struck out six in three innings.
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Diamondbacks right-hander Archie Bradley tossed three scoreless innings in his second start of spring training.
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Diamondbacks lefty Robbie Ray was upbeat despite walking three in 1 1/3 innings on Wednesday. Nick Piecoro/azcentral sports
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USA TODAY Sports’ Bob Nightengale breaks down the story lines to follow as spring training heats up.
USA TODAY Sports
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Diamondbacks right-hander Taijuan Walker talks about his outing on Tuesday against the Texas Rangers in Surprise. Nick Piecoro/azcentral sports
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Here are some longtime favorites about America’s favorite pastime.
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The MLB is changing up the intentional walk in an effort to improve the pace of play.
USA TODAY Sports
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The Brewers by position: Bullpen
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USA TODAY Sports has released its projected win totals for the 2017 MLB season.
USA TODAY Sports
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USA TODAY Sports released its annual list of players to watch for in the upcoming season.
USA TODAY Sports
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MLB commissioner Rob Manfred spoke about his frustration with the MLBPA, which he said rebuffed the league’s efforts to make any of a number of rules changes at Tuesday’s Cactus League Media Day at the Biltmore. Thomas Hawthorne/azcentral sports
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The Diamondbacks’ Ken Kendrick discusses the team’s lawsuit with the Maricopa County Stadium District over over Chase Field maintenance costs at spring-training camp on Friday.
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Diamondbacks manager Torey Lovullo discusses star first baseman Paul Goldschmidt and his new team’s foundation at Cactus League Media Day at the Arizona Biltmore on Tuesday. Thomas Hawthorne/azcentral sports
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The Diamondbacks had their photos taken on Tuesday, Feb. 21, 2017 at Salt River Fields.
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Cubs manager Joe Maddon discusses how difficult it is to win back-to-back championships in the MLB on Tuesday at Cactus League Media Day at the Arizona Biltmore on Tuesday. Thomas Hawthorne/azcentral sports
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Cubs manager Joe Maddon discusses how to prepare for this season in regards to overworking and injuries after last season’s championship run at Cactus League Media Day at the Arizona Biltmore on Tuesday. Thomas Hawthorne/azcentral sports
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The Arizona Diamondbacks hosted fans to celebrate the start of spring training and the 2017 season at D-Backs Fan Fest at Salt River Fields on Monday. Hannah Gaber/azcentral.com
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Diamondbacks closer Fernando Rodney tosses a bullpen session at Salt River Fields.
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There are several MLB teams looking for new stadiums, while at least two are happy with their old-school dwellings.
USA TODAY Sports
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Diamondbacks right-hander Taijuan Walker throws his first official bullpen session of spring training at Salt River Fields on Tuesday. Nick Piecoro/azcentral sports
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Diamondbacks pitcher Shelby Miller tosses his first bullpen of the spring at Salt River Fields on Tuesday. Nick Piecoro/azcentral sports
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Ron Gardenhire, Arizona Diamondbacks bench coach, annouced on Tuesday that he was diagnosed with prostate cancer at the team’s spring training complex at Salt River Fields. Manager Torey Lovullo also spoke. Video: Rob Schumacher/azcentral sports
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Diamondbacks manager Torey Lovullo on what he sees in his team and pitcher Shelby Miller heading into the first days of spring training at Salt River Fields. Rob Schumacher/azcentral sports
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D-Backs pitcher Archie Bradley, sporting facial hair that he has not shaved since October 31st, reports to spring training camp in Scottsdale. (Rob Schumacher/azcentral sports)
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D-Backs skipper Torey Lovullo press conference at spring training camp in Scottsdale. (Rob Schumacher/azcentral sports)
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D-Backs pitcher Patrick Corbin reports to spring training camp in Scottsdale. (Rob Schumacher/azcentral sports)
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Diamondbacks right-hander Archie Bradley talks about the excitement of getting spring training started, saying “I couldn’t sleep last night.” Video: Nick Piecoro/azcentral sports
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The Diamondbacks have faced tough seasons and payroll limitations, and it might cost them a beloved franchise player. Hannah Gaber/azcentral.com
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Proliferation of young talent in the game provides an abundance of inexpensive options to stock a roster.
USA TODAY Sports
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Are the Arizona Diamondbacks right to sue Maricopa County over Chase Field? Columnist E.J. Montini says no.
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With the longest championship drought in American professional sports, the Cubs have seen a lot change since they last won the World Series, in 1908.
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What is in store for the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2017?
Zack Greinke on his spring start vs. Cubs
Key MLB story lines as spring training concludes
MLB’s regular season will answer these spring questions
USA wins its first World Baseball Classic title
USA Baseball, Trubisky to Cards, Kurt Warner’s stolen jersey
D-Backs’ Robbie Ray says he’s ready for start of season
Zack Greinke on his start vs. Netherlands
Shelby Miller strikes out 8 vs. Mariners
D-Backs’ Robbie Ray on spring start vs. Brewers
Zack Greinke comments on his throwing session
Diamondbacks’ Patrick Corbin after spring outing vs. White Sox
Taijuan Walker after latest dominant start for D-Backs
Zack Greinke on his diminished velocity in start vs. Mexico
Shelby Miller discusses latest start
D-Backs’ Taijuan Walker on his latest strong outing
D-Backs lefty Patrick Corbin after spring outing vs. Padres
Shelby Miller on his outing vs. Cubs
Archie Bradley on strong outing vs. Padres
Robbie Ray on his spring training debut
Spring training story lines to watch
Taijuan Walker throws two innings in spring debut
Some things about Spring Training season just haven’t changed…
MLB changing intentional walks for 2017
Just the FAQs: Brewers at bullpen
Projecting the 2017 MLB season
MLB’s 100 Names to Know for 2017
MLB commissioner Rob Manfred on rule changes, MLBPA cooperation
Diamondbacks’ Ken Kendrick discusses team’s lawsuit
D-Backs manager Torey Lovullo on Goldschmidt, team’s core
Behind the scenes at Diamondbacks Photo Day
Cubs’ Joe Maddon on why it’s difficult to repeat
Cubs’ Joe Maddon on this season’s preparation
A look at Diamondbacks Fan Fest 2017
Closer Fernando Rodney throws bullpen session
Baseball stadiums on the way out or in danger of extinction
Taijuan Walker throws bullpen session at Salt River Fields
Shelby Miller throws bullpen session at Salt River Fields
D-Backs bench coach Ron Gardenhire diagnosed with prostate cancer
D-Backs manager Lovullo on getting started, Shelby Miller
D-Backs pitcher Archie Bradley talks about his beard
D-Backs skipper Torey Lovullo press conference
D-Backs pitcher Patrick Corbin reports to spring training camp in Scottsdale
Diamondbacks’ pitcher Archie Bradley: “New year. New team. New everything. We’re excited.”
D-Backs near crossroads with Goldschmidt
The best MLB lineup realistic money can buy
Montini: Diamondbacks’ lawsuit is one big error
Cubs, coffee and cars: How things have changed since the North Siders last won the World Series
A gust of wind is filling the sails. The Cubs are reigning World Series champions, a feel-good story 108 years in the making. Team USA won its first World Baseball Classic, providing a jolt of national pride and heightened awareness during the hazy days of spring training.
It almost feels like Major League Baseball has real momentum entering the 2017 season, where anything seems possible, where all dreams begin at home plate.
The Diamondbacks are another matter.
They are a team in transition, from manager to methodology. They have a pitching rotation that could surprise or sputter. They have an infield that could be grooming budding stars Jake Lamb and Brandon Drury. They have an MVP candidate, Paul Goldschmidt, who should be motivated like never before.
They are blessed with low expectations.They are hampered by Zack Greinke’s contract, a luxury item that average teams simply can’t afford. They are cursed to be playing in a division where the Dodgers and Giants both have payrolls exceeding $200 million. And while their concession stands will be stocked with dynamic new attractions, their bullpen might be full of dirty-water hot dogs.
RELATED: Complete D-Backs and MLB preview coverage
“I’m hopeful,” Managing General Partner Ken Kendrick said. “You have new leadership and so that gives you optimism, because a change with leaders that I think are very able makes you hopeful. But we have a long road and a very tough competitive environment.”
Truth is, nobody knows what to expect. But there are two powerful takeaways that should follow the Diamondbacks into what will likely be their sixth consecutive season without a playoff berth, helping this team find relevance over the long, hot summer ahead.
Start with Goldschmidt, previously known as America’s First Baseman. That perception has taken a recent hit, as he didn’t even play for Team USA in the last two games of the WBC, benched in favor of the Royals’ Eric Hosmer.
Egregious slight? Not necessarily. Hosmer was swinging a hotter bat at the time, which is always a critical factor in determining starting lineups in tournament play. Hosmer had more big-game experience. But Goldschmidt is considered one of the better players in baseball, and he chose to represent his country at a time when most major stars did not.
RELATED: Goldschmidt back in camp with humility intact
Goldschmidt is as steady as he is humble, and not one to complain about anything, whether it’s his contract or lack of playing time. But his decision to participate in the WBC may have backfired, robbing him of Cactus League at-bats and bonding time with his teammates. It’s also a bad look. Do you think Bryce Harper or Mike Trout would’ve been benched for any reason?
“I flew out to San Diego with my son to see Team USA play the Dominican, and I can tell you, there were a lot of ticked off Diamondbacks fans,” former Diamondbacks star Luis Gonzalez said. “I told them, ‘Hey, I don’t make the lineups.’ I think the exposure he got was great, but I would’ve liked to see him play more.”
Goldschmidt had a decent season in 2016, but not the kind of year expected from a player with monstrous talent. Perhaps the WBC snub will fuel him even further in the coming months.
Goldschmidt’s absence from the Diamondbacks also magnified a different kind of spring training at Salt River Fields. Unlike last year, when the team shined in Cactus League exhibitions, this team has been flying under the radar, where Greinke and A.J. Pollock have been preparing slowly and cautiously.
This much is certain: No matter where they finish in the National League West standings, the Diamondbacks need to resonate with their audience. Maybe Valley fans were robbed of perspective, spoiled after watching their franchise win a World Series in its fourth year of existence. Or maybe the playoff drought and previous bouts with incompetence have damaged the team’s credibility and standing in the community.
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These Diamondbacks need to break that cycle, exhibiting a passion and love for the game that will bring a new energy to their stagnant stadium.
As evidenced by the WBC, this is a touchy subject in baseball. Teams from Latin America are not afraid to show emotion on the field. Their fans display a level of engagement rarely seen in Major League Baseball. The culture clash has created a lot of friction inside the game from U.S.-born players who take great offense to showboating and style points.
“I hope kids watching the WBC can watch the way we play the game and appreciate the way we play the game as opposed to the way Puerto Rico plays or the Dominican (Republic) plays,” Tigers second baseman Ian Kinsler told the New York Times. “That’s not taking anything away from them. That just wasn’t the way we were raised. They were raised differently and to show emotion and passion when you play. We do show emotion; we do show passion. But we just do it in a different way.”
The Diamondbacks don’t need to emulate the Dominican national team or bleach their hair in solidarity like players from Puerto Rico. But they would be wise to show some personality and joy that seems to be taboo in Major League Baseball, a sport that really needs to lighten up.
“I love hard-nosed play,” Kendrick said. “But I admire the way the international fans get into the game. It almost makes baseball a different sport than the one we’re used to. How you balance that in a way that’s not over the top, I’m not sure I have the magic formula for that.”
At this point, Kendrick would gladly settle for a good team and a fast start. It’s been too long since we’ve seen either at Chase Field.
Reach Bickley at [email protected] or 602-444-8253. Follow him on twitter.com/dan.bickley. Listen to “Bickley and Marotta” weekdays from 12-2 p.m. on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM.