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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Arizona Diamondbacks right-hander Shelby Miller struggled with his fastball command Monday but says he’s ready for spring training to end. (Nick Piecoro/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?
D-Backs’ Shelby Miller says he’s ready for the season
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
As the Diamondbacks packed up and moved out of Salt River Fields on Tuesday, their roster continued to come into focus. They added a pair of relievers. They sent down a shortstop. They dropped hints about how their rotation will be deployed.
But with four days before the start of the season, the Diamondbacks still have some decisions to make when it comes to their roster construction, though most of the heavy lifting appears to be complete.
Perhaps the most significant decision announced Tuesday was a sort of non-decision. Chris Owings, Nick Ahmed and Ketel Marte have been engaged in a three-headed competition at shortstop, but after Marte was optioned to Triple-A Reno on Tuesday morning, manager Torey Lovullo did not declare a winner.
Instead, he suggested that Owings and Ahmed will both see time, though he hinted at the possibility of an everyday-ish player emerging.
“I’m not going to define the playing time there,” Lovullo said. “I know that we talked about there being a competition. We know that both guys are on the team. I’m still going to sort through that road map and figure out that playing time and that situation.”
He also pointed to Owings’ versatility – he has been seeing time in right field in recent weeks – a comment that seems to suggest a platoon of sorts at shortstop. In his career, Ahmed has fared better against left-handed pitching, against whom Owings could shift to right field to replace the left-handed hitting David Peralta.
“You’re going to probably see somebody trending towards playing every day (at shortstop),” Lovullo said, “but by no means will either guy be a backup consistently sitting on the bench.”
Of the two, Owings is the better offensive player, and he outperformed Ahmed at the plate during spring training, hitting .352 with a double, two triples and two homers. Ahmed doubled on Tuesday afternoon – off a lefty – and finished the Cactus League schedule with a .259 average.
Ahmed, though, has always been the stronger defender, and recently has looked like his normal self a few months removed from hip surgery. He made a slick play on a hard-hit ball in the ninth inning on Tuesday.
The bullpen also continued to take shape. Facing deadlines to give them spots on the Opening Day roster or potentially release them, the Diamondbacks added right-hander Tom Wilhelmsen and lefty Jorge De La Rosa.
Wilhelmsen’s addition comes as little surprise. Featuring a power fastball/breaking ball combo, he gave up just one run in 9 1/3 innings in spring training.
De La Rosa was less certain to make the club. Though he exhibited solid stuff, including a fastball up to 95 mph, he also allowed five runs on 11 hits in eight innings, walking six and striking out five.
The Diamondbacks still have two spots remaining in their bullpen, one of which seems likely to go to veteran J.J. Hoover. And barring an external addition, the final spot will go to one of Andrew Chafin, Silvino Bracho or T.J. McFarland.
In light of outfielder Gregor Blanco’s oblique strain, the final bench spot seems likely to go to outfielder Jeremy Hazelbaker.
General Manager Mike Hazen said Blanco’s injury factored into the club’s decision to release the veteran outfielder on Monday night – the team faced a deadline to add him to the roster, pay him a retention bonus or release him – but the Diamondbacks were able to re-sign him to a minor-league deal by Tuesday morning.
Blanco said the new deal he signed included the same $1 million base salary and chance for $3.5 million in incentives as his original contract.
Hazen said the deal has a May 15 opt out if he’s still in the minors. Blanco was assigned to Triple-A Reno, but Hazen intimated that, once healthy, Blanco is likely to be promoted to the majors. Blanco could begin to resume activities in seven to 10 days, in a best-case scenario, Hazen said.
Lovullo wouldn’t yet say what his rotation order would be, but he suggested left-hander Patrick Corbin would follow Opening Day starter Zack Greinke, with Taijuan Walker, Robbie Ray and Shelby Miller coming after them. The pitchers have lined up that way throughout the spring, with the current arrangement allowing each of them, with the exception of Greinke, an extra day of rest before their first start.
The Diamondbacks claimed first baseman/outfielder Christian Walker off waivers from the Cincinnati Reds and designated right-hander Evan Marshall for assignment. Walker, who turned 26 on Tuesday, has just 27 at-bats at the big league level in his career. In parts of five minor league seasons, he’s hit .276/.342/.449, including hitting .264 with 18 homers last season in Triple-A Norfolk.
Hazen said the club liked Walker’s power potential and felt it could stand to improve its depth at first base.
Marshall had a strong season in relief for the Diamondbacks in 2014 but his results have suffered the past two seasons. He gave up two runs in 5 1/3 innings in six appearances in the Cactus League.
The Diamondbacks have been dangling his name in trade talks in recent days, and a trade remains a possibility.
The Diamondbacks also placed outfielder Socrates Brito (dislocated finger) on the 60-day disabled list.
Reach Piecoro at (602) 444-8680 or [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @nickpiecoro.