"It's different," La Russa said. "I've been imagining it for awhile. It's not as hands on, a step removed."
La Russa was impressed with what he saw from the 15 pitchers he watched throw.
"I don't see one out of the 15 that couldn't be a successful Major League pitcher," he said.
La Russa knows that most pundits have low expectations for his club this year after a 98-loss season in 2014.
"You get what you earn as far as expectations," he said. "In the end, all people are doing is guessing. I know we're going to play the game better."
In other camp news:
• Reliever Matt Stites said an MRI taken of his right elbow showed only inflammation and he expected to be back on the mound sometime next week.
• Closer Addison Reed said he is past his shoulder soreness and will be back throwing Monday.
• Manager Chip Hale announced that infielder Nick Punto, who had been signed to a Minor League contract and invited to big league camp, had decided not to play this season. Hale said Punto did not officially retire, but told him that it was important for him to stick close to home for now.
• Most pitchers reported early and had thrown previous bullpen sessions, so Hale spent most of his time Friday shuttling between the fields to make sure the drills were running according to plan.
"I was really impressed by their work ethic today," Hale said.
Steve Gilbert is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Inside the D-backs, and follow him on Twitter @SteveGilbertMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.