D-backs eager to get going with twin openers

D-backs eager to get going with twin openers

D-backs eager to get going with twin openers
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Let the games begin.

The D-backs open their Cactus League schedule Saturday with a split-squad matchup against the Rockies at 1:10 p.m. MST at Salt River Fields. Half of the team will travel to Scottsdale Stadium to take on the Giants at 1:05 p.m. MST.

The D-backs, who share the stadium with the Rockies, will be the visitors in the game at SRF, which the team announced Friday was sold out.

"It's good to get going," D-backs manager Kirk Gibson said.

Gibson put his team through the paces in the main stadium Friday for the first time this spring. They went over their daily fundamentals, took infield and had batting practice.

"Just being in the stadium today was way different," Gibson said, as opposed to the back fields where the workouts had taken place prior to Friday. "It's a way different atmosphere."

After spending hours on bunt plays, pickoff plays, cutoffs and relays and facing each other in batting practice, both the Arizona hitters and pitchers are ready to face someone wearing a different uniform.

"You just want that intensity level to rise so you can judge where you're at with things," D-backs right fielder Justin Upton said. "You want to learn what it is you need to work on, how well you're seeing the ball. It's hard to do that when you have a cage around you and you're facing your own pitchers."

The team's top Draft pick (third overall) from a year ago, Trevor Bauer, will get the start for the D-backs at SRF and be followed to the mound by left-handed prospect Patrick Corbin.

Josh Collmenter will get the start against the Giants with lefty Wade Miley taking over for him.

"The adrenaline pumps up and you get to have a game-like feel, and it's hard to simulate that in the bullpen or even throwing to your own hitters because you don't want to try and do too much and hit them. You're really just getting your work in," Collmenter said. "So it's nice to have someone that's quote-unquote 'the enemy' in the batter's box. It's a good measuring stick of how comfortable you are with your stuff, and you can get a lot of feedback based on the hitters' swings."

There don't seem to be many, if any, open spots on the 25-man roster, but there is still plenty to watch for with the D-backs this spring.

A lot of attention will be on the organization's top pitching prospects like Bauer, Tyler Skaggs, Corbin and Charles Brewer, to name a few, as well as position players.

"Probably more some of our younger kids," D-backs general manager Kevin Towers said when asked what he's going to be paying closest attention to this spring. "For me really getting a chance to see Skaggs, Brewer, Corbin, Bauer, [Adam] Eaton, [A.J.] Pollock, [Matt] Davidson, [Ryan] Wheeler, some of our young guys that we feel are close to the big leagues how they perform in 'A' games in front of crowds. It's good exposure for the staff and it's good to see where they're at against better competition."

The D-backs had a dismal record last spring at 12-25, and one of the reasons given was that they were tired in the afternoon after spending long hours in the morning on fundamental work mandated by Gibson.

This spring, Gibson plans to modify that a bit to prevent fatigue and as an acknowledgement that some of those lessons have already been learned.

"Last year we kept going with everything the whole spring and it was a lot," Gibson said. "So I want to still do a lot, but I don't want to do it to the point where it's too much."

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.