SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- For the past five months they were just names on a white board, a conceptual idea, but over the past week as the D-backs have come to life on the field in front of him, chief baseball officer Tony La Russa has been pleased with what he's seen.
"The talent level is legit," La Russa said. "Sometimes over the winter you view the talent through rose-colored glasses, and then you look at it and the talent is here. It's exciting."
Yes, La Russa is well aware that the expectations for his team are low amongst the public, but internally the organization is buoyed by the potential of its young pitchers as well as the competition it will have at spots throughout the lineup.
Friday morning, La Russa touched on a handful of subjects with a couple of reporters:
La Russa was asked if Goldschmidt reminded him of Albert Pujols during his first couple of years in the big leagues.
"I think so in a lot of ways," La Russa said. "The example that he sets for his teammates, the completeness of his game, I mean he's a franchise player. And I know the things that you don't know unless you're around, and I wasn't here until now, but I know the desire to learn, improve, that's classic Albert."
Though much has been made about the signing of Cuban free agent Yasmany Tomas to play third base, Lamb could force the team to make room for him on the roster. So far he has impressed the staff with how he's looked.
"He just looks great," La Russa said. "I didn't see him last spring so I don't have anything to compare it to. I saw him at the end of the season, he could have been worn down. His talent is oozing. Believe me, at the point we're a contending club there is room for both of those guys [Tomas and Lamb] on the team. It's not that tough to figure out. They can't both play third base, but you could be creative. Get the best players on the field."
The Cactus League games are important
The players that play the best in the games are likely to be the ones that get the majority of the playing time.
"It's a fun camp," La Russa said. "It's like I keep saying, as opposed to a more set team, these are the kind of springs that fans enjoy because there won't be very many sleepy games on the Diamondbacks side. Lot of guys playing for their life, playing for innings and at-bats."
Hill lost some weight in the offseason and has looked good so far during drills as he battles for playing time.
"We'll tell out there," La Russa said referring to when games start. "He definitely is in the competition for playing time. That's just front office talking, remember that, because [manager] Chip [Hale] makes out the lineup. I'm just echoing what Chip has seen. I'm sure he would say the same thing to you."