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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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
Ildemaro Vargas fielded a hard smash on one hop and flung it effortlessly across the diamond, making a difficult play look surprisingly easy. An inning earlier on Wednesday night, he had lined a single into left field to drive in two runs, a hit that came off reliever Carl Edwards Jr., a pitcher expected to play a big role in the Chicago Cubs bullpen.
Those sorts of moments have become commonplace for Vargas this month. Whether he’s having good at-bats, making slick defensive plays on the infield or opening eyes with his smart aggressiveness on the bases, Vargas has made a sort of under-the-radar push for a bench spot on the club’s Opening Day roster.
As it stands, the Diamondbacks do not appear to have room for him. For now, their five-man bench seems likely to include two catchers, infielder Daniel Descalso, a fourth outfielder and either Chris Owings or Nick Ahmed – whoever isn’t the everyday shortstop. That likely would leave Vargas in Triple-A Reno.
But Vargas’ emergence has highlighted the fact that the Diamondbacks’ depth at shortstop gives them options – along with Owings, Ahmed and Vargas, there’s also Ketel Marte – and sources say the club is exploring those options.
They say the Diamondbacks have shown a willingness to listen to offers on the defensive-minded Ahmed, who, by all accounts, has looked healthy in his return from hip surgery. They say Owings appears to have the leg up on the everyday shortstop job.
“That would make sense,” a rival scout said of a deal involving Ahmed. “They need to add prospects to their system.”
Vargas has gone from being out of affiliated ball to on a 40-man roster and on the cusp of the majors. Two years ago, he was released by the St. Louis Cardinals at the end of spring training. He had hit just .236 in the minors the previous year. The release made him consider walking away.
“I thought about quitting; I thought about not playing anymore,” Vargas said, speaking through an interpreter. “But I had a son, so I had to keep playing baseball and keep trying to be with a major-league team.”
Vargas, 25, seems to view everything through the prism of his son, Austin, who was just four months old at the time of the release. He said Austin is the reason he plays so aggressively, and he said he is motivated not by trying to prove the Cardinals wrong, but to get to the big leagues for his son.
He wound up signing with the Bridgeport Bluefish of the independent Atlantic League, where he played 30 games before the Diamondbacks picked him up. Scout Chris Carminucci had received a strong recommendation from Bluefish manager Ricky VanAsselberg, then was impressed by what he saw when he went to watch Vargas play.
“Switch-hitter, line-drive, gap-to-gap kind of guy, makes contact,” Carminucci said during an interview in the offseason. “His tools are the glove and the bat and the actions. Playing against some older guys in the Atlantic League – a lot of them have a lot more time under their belt than he did. He wasn’t intimidated.”
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Vargas has done nothing but hit since signing with the Diamondbacks. He hit .321 in Low-A Kane County in 2015 and followed that by hitting .305 across three levels last season, including a .354/.418/.449 line in 198 at-bats for Triple-A Reno. He was added to the 40-man roster over the winter.
“I think he can play all over the field,” Carminucci said. “I think he can hit. I don’t think he’s going to hit for much power, but doubles power and an ability to hit for average. I really think this kid has a chance.”
Manager Torey Lovullo said Thursday that Vargas probably doesn’t have anything left to prove, other than to show he can maintain the same level of play he’s displayed so far in camp.
Vargas has the “ability to play the game full speed without the fear of making a mistake,” Lovullo said. “We’re three weeks into games and he hasn’t let up. So we want to see it continue and last as long as possible, gain that experience and if he continues to do it that’s how we want all these young players to play.”
- Lovullo said outfielder Yasmany Tomas (left oblique strain) won’t be re-evaluated until next week at the earliest. While that would appear to put his status for Opening Day in question, Lovullo said there’s still time. “I think we’re still in a good spot,” Lovullo said.
- Center fielder A.J. Pollock (groin) is day-to-day, Lovullo said. Pollock hasn’t played since Sunday.
Reach Piecoro at (602) 444-8680 or nick.[email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @nickpiecoro.