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
Right-hander Silvino Bracho smiled briefly before his face turned serious again. He knows spring training is winding down, that roster decisions are looming, and all he needs to do is glance around him in the Diamondbacks clubhouse to see he’s one of the few remaining candidates for a bullpen job. But he’d rather not.
“I don’t want to think about that,” Bracho said. “It’s hard not to, but it is what it is. I’m healthy and if they want me on the roster, then I’m going to be good for Opening Day. If not, that’s OK, I have to keep my mind focused and do what I need to do.”
The early days of spring training are filled with carefree moments, a time without games, results or roster moves, a time when players are weeks from having to confront the realities of the business. For some players, however, the final days can be the opposite, filled with tension and dread as they wait to learn their fate.
The clubhouse at Salt River Fields had that feel on Monday as the Diamondbacks finished the home portion of their spring training schedule with a loss to the Los Angeles Angels. Players with jobs seemingly on the line said they had yet to be told whether they had made the team.
But a piece of roster news arrived on Monday evening with the announcement that the Diamondbacks had released veteran Gregor Blanco, who had been expected to make the club as a fourth outfielder.
Blanco, 33, who spent the previous five seasons with the Giants, suffered an oblique strain late last week, an injury that Diamondbacks officials said complicated his chances to make the team.
Blanco, as an Article XX(b) free agent, had the option to become a free agent if he didn’t make the Diamondbacks’ Opening Day roster. As of Monday evening, it was unclear if Blanco requested his release or if the Diamondbacks just released him outright.
That would seem to be good news for Jeremy Hazelbaker’s chances. The only other healthy outfielder remaining in camp, he has gone just 10 for 50 (.200) in the Cactus League.
Hazelbaker, though, hit for power last year as a rookie with the Cardinals, slugging 12 homers in 200 at-bats. He also is a known entity to Hazen and his top assistants, who were together in Boston when the Red Sox drafted Hazelbaker in 2009.
More roster news is expected to arrive on Tuesday. Both right-hander Tom Wilhelmsen and left-hander Jorge De La Rosa also have the ability to opt out of their contracts if they are told they aren’t making the team.
Wilhelmsen seems to be a lock, and his outing on Monday afternoon did nothing to change that. With a fastball up to 97 mph, he struck out Mike Trout, Albert Pujols and Cameron Maybin in order. He’s allowed just one earned run in 9 1/3 innings this spring.
De La Rosa, the former Rockies starter, is less certain. He has exhibited a good fastball, reaching as high as 95 mph, but neither his strike-throwing nor his results have been consistent.
The bullpen appears to have five players locked in with jobs: closer Fernando Rodney, Wilhelmsen, J.J. Hoover, Archie Bradley and Randall Delgado. Assuming the team carries seven relievers, that would leave De La Rosa, Bracho, Andrew Chafin and T.J. McFarland competing for the final two spots.
Bracho, between a stint at the World Baseball Classic and downtime as he nursed a hamstring injury, has quietly put together an impressive spring, with five scoreless innings, with one hit, two walks and five strikeouts.
He was particularly eye-opening on Monday, as he tore through the Angels’ lineup in the eighth inning, striking out two and showing a lively fastball (93-95 mph) to go with a change-up and slider.
“After you see something like what he did today, it was certainly impressive enough for us to have a conversation about what we saw and see where it leads us from there,” Lovullo said. “It was a great outing.”
Right-hander Rubby De La Rosa was reassigned to minor league camp on Monday morning, an anticipated move for a pitcher who is still working his way back from elbow problems that cost him most of last season.
De La Rosa, who has been throwing bullpen sessions since March 18, said he is two to three weeks away from pitching in a game environment, which likely means he is more than a month away from being a candidate to return to the majors. The club is bringing him back as a reliever.
*Salt River Fields surpassed the 300,000 mark in attendance on Monday afternoon, the seventh time in the facility’s seven years in existence it has done so. It will lead all two-team complexes in baseball in attendance this year, the Diamondbacks announced in a release. The facility also set a single-game record earlier this month, drawing 14,002 for a March 23 game between the Diamondbacks and Cubs.
*Also reassigned to minor league camp on Monday were catcher Hank Conger, outfielder Reymond Fuentes and infielder/outfielder Kristopher Negron.
Reach Piecoro at (602) 444-8680 or [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @nickpiecoro.