Confident Diamondbacks go back to basics in first workouts
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. (AP) With a back-to-basics approach, the Arizona Diamondbacks had their first full-squad workout of spring training Tuesday in the bright sunshine of Scottsdale.
Manager Chip Hale and team President Derrick Hall addressed the players before they hit the fields.
''They all realize that we have addressed holes,'' Hall said, ''and invested a lot more than we have in years.''
The big acquisition, of course, was Zack Greinke, who signed a six-year, $206.5 million contract with $62.5 million deferred.
Hall said that deferring salary is a one-time strategy and there are no plans to do it with any other players. The Diamondbacks got into financial trouble, but won a World Series, in their early days after deferring large chunks of money for Randy Johnson, Matt Williams and others.
''There was probably no other way,'' Hall said, ''but it's not something that we want to start practicing again. It was an isolated case that still made sense for us financially as we could see the future of those revenues coming in.''
Despite the big Greinke contract, Hall said the team's payroll will be about $100 million.
''We're right where we want to be,'' Hall said. ''We haven't gone crazy with the payroll. We committed ourselves to some high salaries, but we're doing it hopefully in a very efficient way and around (our) budget.''
Hale said he talked to the team about expectations, but not about any expectations there are for the team to make the playoffs.
''Our expectations are we're going to play hard every night,'' he said. ''Our expectations are to prepare and be ready and be the most prepared team in baseball, the most fundamentally sound team in baseball.''
As far as wins and losses go, Hale said, ''The guys in that room, we get judged on it in the end, but if you just obsess over that you're not going to be able to be successful.''
The players went through fundamental drills and did some hitting.
''We've got to work basically like we've never played baseball before,'' center fielder A.J. Pollock said. ''We're going from zero and get the fundamentals down and I think that's the right way to go about spring training. We've got such a long time here, kind of make sure you've got the really, really basics down. Even if it seems overly simplistic, it's definitely necessary.''
As much as Hale would like to avoid the subject of how the team will do chasing its first playoff berth since 2011, it's impossible for the players not to know how much their chances are enhanced by the addition of Greinke and Shelby Miller to the rotation.
''You're obviously excited about that stuff,'' third baseman Jake Lamb said. ''There's a lot of confidence in this room. That has to do with the work that we did last year and then obviously the moves that we made this offseason.''
After losing 98 games in 2014, Arizona improved by 15 wins to 79-83 last season and had the second-most productive offense in the National League, but starting pitching was a problem so the organization stunned the baseball world by landing Greinke.
Hall said the goal is to make the team competitive not just this year but for the next ''five, seven, 10 years.''
As for this year, he said, ''realistically, if you look at it on paper, you can probably identify close to 10 teams that have a legitimate chance'' to make the playoffs this season. Are we in the discussion there? Probably. But I think most experts would tell you we're not the favorite. That's a good thing.''