21 February 2011
The Diamondbacks have completed their first week of Spring Training, and the most notable items of Week 1 are optimism, competition, veteran leadership, Wily Mo Pena in Batting Practice, and lots of Tweets from Barry Enright.
Optimism - The first week included speeches to the team and media from Manager Kirk Gibson, GM Kevin Towers, CEO Derrick Hall, and Managing General Partner Ken Kendrick, and they all expressed optimism that the Diamondbacks would be contenders for the Division crown in the 2011 season. Towers specifically asked "Why not us?" and emphasized the strong young pitching of Daniel Hudson, Ian Kennedy, and Jarrod Parker as the key to the team's long-term success.
Competition - The Diamondbacks have stated that competition is the main theme of spring training this year, and that all jobs on the team will have to be earned. Examples of this are veteran Russell Branyan being brought in to compete at 1B with Juan Miranda and Brandon Allen, and the battle for the 5th Starting Pitcher slot between Armando Galarraga, Barry Enright, and Aaron Heilman. However, as Steve Gilbert points out in his MLBlog, what will the Diamondbacks do if one of the veterans, such as Zach Duke, Geoff Blum, or Willie Bloomquist is outplayed in Spring Training by someone not expected to make the team? It has been shown many times that making roster decisions based on results from Spring Training is usually not a good idea. But at the same time, it is important to make all the players feel they have a chance to make a contribution with a big spring. Most likely, the competition is limited to only a few spots (1B, LF, SP #5, and a few middle reliever positions), and the vast majority of roster spots are safe.
Veteran Leadership - A big theme in Spring Training this year is veteran leadership, as evidenced by the addition of players like Henry Blanco, Geoff Blum, and Willie Bloomquist. Blanco, in particular, has already drawn praise from Manager Kirk Gibson, who referred to Blanco as "The King" and raved about the way Blanco was a positive influence on the team's young catchers and pitchers.
Wily Mo Pena in BP - As he done many times before in his career, outfielder Wily Mo Pena has been putting on tremendous power displays in batting practice. 2B Kelly Johnson said that in Pena's first ten swings, he hit nine homers. "If there were 30 swings, I'm guessing 25 over the fence. It was ridiculous." Pena will probably start the year in AAA, but could be an option for the Diamondbacks' LF job.
Lots of Tweets - The most impressive tweeter so far in Spring Training is Diamondbacks' Starting Pitcher Barry Enright. Enright now has over 2500 followers, and posts dozens of comments and responses each day. Twitter is already making Enright a fan favorite, not only among fans of the Diamondbacks, but all around the Major Leagues.