Opener should reflect D-backs' young nucleus

Arizona unlikely to mess with foundation before facing San Francisco on April 2

Opener should reflect D-backs' young nucleus

The 2016 season certainly did not go according to plan for the Arizona Diamondbacks, who began with postseason aspirations and finished with a 69-93 record.

There is reason for optimism in 2017, however, as the D-backs do have a nucleus of a solid team. New general manager Mike Hazen figures to make some adjustments to a pitching staff that is loaded with potential but has struggled mightily.

Arizona doesn't appear inclined to tear things apart right now, which indicates that it believes 2017 will be far better than '16.

OPPONENT
For the first time in franchise history, the D-backs will open a regular season on a Sunday when they play host to the Giants on April 2. The game was scheduled for Sunday because the NCAA Final Four is in Glendale, Ariz., and Monday will be the National Championship Game.

Presumptive Opening Day starter Zack Greinke will hope for a better result than the 2016 opener, when he was roughed up by the Rockies, while the D-backs will look to improve upon their 1-9 home record against the Giants last season.

OPENING DAY STARTER
After struggling in his initial outings at Chase Field, Greinke seemed to get more comfortable with his home ballpark as he compiled a 2.75 ERA over his final six starts there last season, something he hopes to carry into 2017.

Though this year wasn't a vintage Greinke season, he did show flashes of dominance before a left oblique injury forced him to miss a little more than two months.

Greinke holds Padres to two runs

OPENING DAY LINEUP

1. Jean Segura, 2B
2. Jake Lamb, 3B
3. A.J. Pollock, CF
4. Paul Goldschmidt, 1B
5. David Peralta, RF
6. Yasmany Tomas, LF
7. Welington Castillo, C
8. Chris Owings, SS
9. Greinke, P

There is much to be determined when it comes to the 2017 lineup, but one thing is for sure: If new manager Torey Lovullo is able to write Pollock's name into the order on a daily basis, he will have a big advantage over former skipper Chip Hale.

THREE REASONS TO BE EXCITED
• Pollock should be healthy and ready to go on Opening Day.

• The starting rotation should show improvement with Greinke rebounding and Shelby Miller improving.

• The young core of everyday players, including Goldschmidt, Pollock, Lamb, Segura, Tomas, Owings and Brandon Drury, all return and are still getting better.

Steve Gilbert has covered the D-backs for MLB.com since 2001. Follow him on Twitter @SteveGilbertMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.