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
The new wave of Diamondbacks decision-makers comes with new twists and opinions on the best way to operate.
Position: General Manager.
Mike Hazen laughed, assuming the question was part of a practical joke. He figured Orlando Hudson, the Diamondbacks’ former-second baseman-turned-special assistant, had something to do with it.
Once upon a time, Hazen was a fresh-from-the-Ivy-League outfielder in the San Diego Padres organization who, in his first year as a pro, dominated the rookie-level Pioneer League, hitting .307 with a .919 OPS. Also in the Pioneer League that year: Hudson.
Hazen didn’t believe a question about his playing days was truly sincere, and he refused to even go along with the idea that a shoulder injury might have had anything to do with ending his career.
“Did O-Dog put you up to this?” Hazen said. “No, I was not good. I wasn’t good. I had a nice run of three months of playing out of my mind, and then it came crashing down to Earth. That is 100 percent the only truth to the whole situation. And I realized at that point my destiny was not as a player, it was to try to do something else with my career. That has led me here.”
“Here” is Salt River Fields, where he is wrapping up his first spring training as the Diamondbacks’ general manager. Hazen is a graduate of Princeton. He is a product of the Theo Epstein regime in Boston. He has the pedigree, the look and the sound of a modern baseball executive.
He has built a front office comprised of executives whom he believes not only complement each other but address his weaknesses. His top lieutenants were longtime cohorts with the Red Sox. His manager, Torey Lovullo, goes back even further, to their days with the Cleveland Indians in the early 2000s.
That’s where Hazen’s front office career began, some six months after he was released by the Padres at the end of spring training in 2000. Back then, few teams were hiring interns in front offices, and if they were they had already settled on theirs for the season. Hazen went home and called around, looking to somehow stay in the game.
MORE: Diamondbacks/MLB preview coverage
With help from Princeton baseball coach Scott Bradley, Hazen got in touch with baseball writer Peter Gammons, and the two put him in contact with then-Indians GM Mark Shapiro.
“Peter just said, ‘Hey, look, I like to write about the Cape Cod League players, but I don’t have any time to really go down there and see these guys other than a handful of games,’” Hazen said. “‘If you want to just go down there and send me scouting reports, I’ll read them.’ So I did.”
At the end of the season, Hazen sent his reports along to Shapiro, who had him come to Cleveland to interview for an internship. He got the job.
Hazen spent five years with the Indians, working in scouting and player development, before joining the Red Sox in 2006. In 11 seasons there, he worked his way up to the GM position, the de facto second-in-command to Dave Dombrowski. This opportunity with the Diamondbacks is his first calling the shots.
“There’s all types of ways to make decisions in this game and there’s no right or wrong way; we just want to do it as well as we can,” he said. “We want to be as efficient and as specific as we can in doing that. We’re not going to get every decision right. Nobody does. But we want to try to make as many good decisions as possible. We think that’s what in the long-term will lead to the health and sustainability of the organization.”
Position: Assistant General Manager.
Amiel Sawdaye stood out during his years with the Red Sox for the way he helped modernize their front office, embracing new ways of thinking without snubbing the old guard.
He also stood out in the boxing ring.
A staple of the Fenway Park executive offices from the Theo Epstein days were sets of boxing gloves and headgear, which tended to come out after particularly gruesome losses. Sawdaye, who stands about 5-8 and is slight of build, laughed off the notion that he was any good, but he didn’t deny his willingness to lace ’em up.
“It was our way of letting off steam after a bad loss or a three-game losing streak,” Sawdaye said. “I wasn’t afraid to get in the ring, you can say that.”
Raised in Baltimore by parents of Middle Eastern decent, Sawdaye grew up an Orioles fan. His dad took him and his brother to Camden Yards, where the boys would explain to their father, a soccer fan, what was happening on the field.
After graduating in 1999 from University of Maryland with a degree in information systems, Sawdaye went to work for General Electric. He was a project manager for a now defunct e-commerce business. It was a good job, but Sawdaye’s heart wasn’t in it.
He’d always loved baseball, so he sent his resume around and called a bunch of teams. He happened to get the right person on the phone with the Red Sox, who passed him along to someone in scouting. They were looking for an intern in amateur scouting. He started in June 2002, five months before Epstein was hired as GM.
As he worked behind the scenes to revamp the Red Sox scouting processes, he steadily progressed, first to assistant, then to assistant director and eventually to scouting director, a position he held from 2010-14. He oversaw the Red Sox’s impactful 2011 draft that included the selections of Mookie Betts, Jackie Bradley Jr. and Blake Swihart, among others.
Sawdaye says his time in Boston, during which the Red Sox won three World Series, taught him the importance of culture in a front office. He said Epstein believed good ideas could come from anywhere, and he created an atmosphere in which everyone was encouraged to participate.
“I think by doing that he was able to get a lot of people to want to come work there,” Sawdaye said. “Really good people, smart, like-minded in some ways, but not afraid to have opinions. He valued that.”
After Mike Hazen left for the Diamondbacks, Sawdaye was considered to be his successor as second-in-command to Dave Dombrowski with the Red Sox. But he wound up joining Hazen in Arizona, where he’ll oversee amateur and international scouting while also being involved with the major league club.
“I think he has sort of an entrepreneurial-type mindset as a builder,” Hazen said of Sawdaye, “and as he puts people together in terms of managing a staff and overseeing departments. He has the desire to innovate in a lot of ways.”
RELATED: Scouts break down 2017 Diamondbacks
Position: Assistant General Manager.
As a player development intern with the Boston Red Sox in 2004, Jared Porter’s days consisted of watching at least one game — and often two — in sweat-inducing Florida heat. He’d usually change clothes – or do a load of laundry – in between. He’d throw flips to hitters in the cage before games. He’d sit with scouts and pick their brains during them.
Porter can’t imagine where he’d be without that summer.
“I was young,” he said. “But I learned so much. I wouldn’t trade that internship for anything. If I didn’t have that internship, there’s no way I’d be where I am.”
As one of Diamondbacks General Manager Mike Hazen’s top assistants, Porter oversees the club’s professional scouting department. Well-liked by scouts, he is known for his impressive recall of players and his ability to identify undervalued assets.
Porter grew up in Minnesota, moved to the Boston area during high school and was a standout hockey and baseball player who captained both teams at Bowdoin College in Maine.
A Twins and Red Sox fan, he found himself drawn to analyzing baseball. When he saw Theo Epstein and others rise to general manager positions in the early 2000s, he realized he might not have to play professional baseball to work in it.
Porter moved from intern to assistant in player development, then shifted into pro scouting in 2008, climbing to director in 2012. He thinks the time he spent watching the Gulf Coast League and the Florida State League in 2004, followed by his season working out of Fenway Park, gave him a baseline of what players look like at various stops, helping solidify a sort of scouting foundation.
“He has a great way about him with scouts in the ability to ask the right questions and gather information, which is a critical piece to being a very good scout at the professional level and the major league level,” Hazen said. “I think that becomes such an integral part of how we make decisions and he does such a good job of that.”
Porter is proud of the fact that during his time with the Red Sox they were able to sign five players out of independent ball who reached the majors, including outfielder Daniel Nava.
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“I think little things like that helped me gain some credibility, as well as some good minor league free-agent signings,” Porter said. “The way I’ve looked at it, whatever my job is, that’s the most important thing. When I was in that role, signing a good independent leaguer or a good minor league free agent, that was my focus. That was just as important for me as us trading for or signing a good major league player.”
Porter says he’s a believer in blending the scouting with the analytics, calling it “one of the most important things in baseball to be able to do.”
Porter left the Red Sox in 2015 to join the Cubs, just in time to collect another World Series ring, the fourth of his career.
Though both of those clubs are big-market teams with significant resources, he doesn’t think the differences between them and the Diamondbacks are all that drastic. He pointed out that several players who were critical to the Cubs’ success might have been undervalued at the time they were acquired, including Jake Arrieta, Anthony Rizzo and Dexter Fowler.
“It’s still so critical to a championship team,” Porter said. “I think for us, maybe we aren’t able to always play in the huge number (dollar) guys at times, but that’s maybe the only difference. We’re still going to try to find undervalued players.”