This season, says manager
Indeed, after coming out of the gates blazing, Arizona had losing records in May, June and August thanks to all kinds of offensive, defensive and pitching breakdowns. In the end, says GM
"Maybe now some of our guys better understand how precious a playoff appearance is than they did eight months ago," Byrnes says. "When you're in first and you're playing well and you're a few games up, maybe it's time to start expanding the lead rather than ease up on the gas."
In order to combat the Ks, hitting coach
"You focus on the flight of the ball and its spin," says Reynolds, who set a major league record with 204 strikeouts last season. "You figure out where the ball starts out when it's going to be a ball or a strike. I think it's helped."
The real excitement is with the No. 5 spot, which probably will fall to 24-year-old phenom
"He throws hard, he locates pretty well and his changeup is pretty nasty," says right-hander
The righty Scherzer has been suffering shoulder stiffness during much of camp, which is a bit of a concern. But the D-backs plan to limit his innings to around 170, and Melvin says he'll benefit from favorable matchups at the back end of the rotation.
Melvin hopes that the two oldies-but-goodies in the fold will help mentor this young team. Thirteen-year veteran
Meanwhile, Arizona brought in the ageless
Players were visibly nervous when they returned to the clubhouse after morning workouts last week to find Mexican food in the lunch buffet. Whether it's a good idea to wolf down a plate of chimichangas and refried beans before a game is a whole gastrointestinal debate in itself -- but what alarmed the players was that the offerings were similar to those from the previous week, soon after which at least 15 players, one coach and a number of other clubhouse staff ended up suffering from a stomach virus. The team doesn't think the food was the cause, though, as some of the sick didn't partake of the grub. Eat up,
Melvin figures he has more depth and versatility this season: "[