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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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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Zack Greinke on his spring start vs. Cubs
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
J.J. Hoover’s career was supposed to take off. He had worked his way up to the closer’s job with the Cincinnati Reds, and he envisioned himself taking the opportunity and running with it.
Instead, last year was the worst of his career. He lost the closer’s job. He was sent to the minors, taken off the 40-man roster. He wound up with the Diamondbacks on a minor-league contract, a deal that came with no guarantees.
But Hoover came to camp with the belief that he was in a good situation, that things would work out for him. He is getting closer to making that a reality.
In 7 2/3 innings in the Cactus League, Hoover has yet to allow a run. He’s given up just five hits, walked one, struck out nine. He doesn’t have overpowering stuff – the right-hander’s fastball has sat in the low-90s – but he’s had no trouble getting outs, and he has put himself in good position to secure one of several open spots in the Diamondbacks bullpen.
“I think it’s just going out there and executing,” Hoover said. “It’s been working out pretty well.”
Hoover is understated, quiet. He says he is able to see the positives through his struggles from last year. He is guided by his faith, a believer that everything that happened was the result of a divine path.
“God showed me something different,” he said.
Hoover, 29, who spent five seasons with the Reds, still calls Ohio home. He and his wife, Megan, have a farm there. They have donkeys and horses, pasture-raised chickens and grass-fed cattle. They grow hops and have plans for an orchard. They have cats, dogs and even a miniature pig named Dozer as a pet.
“He brings a little bit of diversity to the house,” Hoover said.
Hoover loves his job, but he insists Megan’s is better. She’s an exotic animal trainer who’s on contract at the Cincinnati Zoo.
“She’s just amazing to watch work,” Hoover said. “I watched her train polar bears, rhinos, big cats.”
She also trained Harambe, the lowland gorilla whose death last year at the Cincinnati Zoo became a national story. In May, a child fell into an enclosure and was dragged around by the gorilla. Zoo workers, fearful the child’s life was in danger, shot and killed Harambe.
Hoover said the death was “difficult” but believes the zoo chose the only option it had in a bad situation.
“She had a 1-on-1 relationship with that gorilla and trained him when he first got over and was in quarantine,” Hoover said. “He was awesome. He was super smart and she really enjoyed working with him.”
In a Diamondbacks bullpen that has perhaps as many as five jobs up for grabs, Hoover seems to have an inside track at one of them. He and right-hander Tom Wilhelmsen appear to have separated themselves from the pack of veteran relievers who are in camp on minor-league deals.
Hoover is pleased with the way he has bounced back from last year. He traces last season’s struggles to a different workout program that he thinks left him with less stability in his delivery. He believes it led to diminished velocity and less life on his pitches.
“It wasn’t until July that I had really finally put my finger on it,” he said. “By that point it was too late. The Reds had already kind of moved on. But if you look back at my year, you’ll see after the second half, once I put my finger on what the problem was, I started to take off again.”
Hoover finished the year strong in Triple-A, posting a 2.30 ERA with 26 strikeouts and just two walks in his final 15 2/3 innings. He said he was pitching more like his old self; in his previous four years, he’d posted a combined 3.34 ERA in 223 innings for the Reds.
He doesn’t know for sure what’s going to happen with the Diamondbacks, but he said he’d have no regrets if it doesn’t work out.
“I feel like I’ve put in absolutely every ounce of work that I’ve needed to,” Hoover said. “I definitely want to be a part of this team. I love the group of guys here. It’s been such a breath of fresh air. It’s kind of renewed my excitement for baseball. I’m just hoping I can make this team.”
- First baseman Paul Goldschmidt is expected back in camp on Friday, manager Torey Lovullo said, and is scheduled to start against the Dodgers. Goldschmidt has been with Team USA the past three weeks at the World Baseball Classic. The U.S. won the tournament by beating Puerto Rico on Wednesday night, although Goldschmidt did not play the final three games.
- Center fielder A.J. Pollock, who has been out since March 12 with a groin injury, is likely to return to the lineup on Friday, Lovullo said. Pollock was expected back Thursday, but he was pushed back due to concerns about the field being wet after overnight rain.
- Left-hander Patrick Corbin will pitch in a minor-league game on Friday, as the Diamondbacks are keeping him away from the division-rival Dodgers. Left-handed reliever Andrew Chafin will start instead in what will be a “pen day,” Lovullo said. Relievers Fernando Rodney and Randall Delgado also will pitch on the back fields.
Reach Piecoro at (602) 444-8680 or [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @nickpiecoro.