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Updated: February 21, 2018
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Grand Slam/Marco Stoovelaar
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Compiled and Copyright © 1997-2018 by Marco Stoovelaar

(Story by Marco Stoovelaar; Photo by Henk Seppen)

Major League Spring Training-season opens

On Wednesday (February 21), the first game of this years Spring Training was played. Arizona Diamondbacks played against the Sun Devils, the baseball-team of Arizona State University. The Diamondbacks won 6-2 in a game that ended after six complete innings.

The game was played at the Spring Training-site of the Diamondbacks at its home stadium Salt River Fields at Talking Stick, which is located in the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community near Scottsdale (Arizona). The Community comprises two Native American tribes, the Pima and the Maricopa. The Community was officially created by an Executive Order of American President Rutherford B. Hayes on June 14, 1879. The D-Backs share the facility with Colorado Rockies.

In the first few days of Spring Training, it is common that some Major League-teams play their first exhibition game against a college-team. On Thursday, Detroit Tigers, Philadelphia Phillies, Minnesota Twins and two split-squad teams of Boston Red Sox also face college-teams. On Friday, 15 games are scheduled with only Major League-teams facing each other. All teams then will get into action, except Kansas City Royals and Texas Rangers. They will play their first exhibition game on Saturday. During their first official Spring Training-game, the players of all 30 teams will wear caps with a special logo of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School to show support for the Parkland-community in Florida and the students of the high school after the tragic shooting at the school on February 14. Seventeen people were killed in the shooting. The caps will be signed and auctioned to raise money for the Broward Education Foundation, which benefits the fund for the victims.

...The map of Salt River Fields at Talking Stick...
Several notable Major League-players have played for the Sun Devils, including Reggie Jackson, Rick Monday, Barry Bonds, Bob Horner and Dustin Pedroia. After baseball was added to the sports program is the school in 1959, the baseball-team of ASU had three wellknown Head Coaches through the years. Former Major Leaguer Bobby Winkles led the squad from 1959 through 1971. His successor Jim Brock then led the team for 23 years (1972-1994) and guided the squad to 1,099 victories. The home field of the Sun Devils in Tempe is named after these two baseball-greats: Winkles Field-Packard Stadium at Brock Ballpark.

Brock, who passed away in 1994, was succeeded in 1995 by Pat Murphy, who led the Sun Devils through 2009. Under Murphy's guidance, the Sun Devils won the Pac-10 Conference in 2000 and consecutively in 2007, 2008 and 2009. With Murphy as Head Coach, his teams set an NCAA-record of not being shutout in 506 consecutive games between 1995 and 2004. In 1987 (European Championship) and in 2000 (Olympic Games), Murphy was the Manager of the Netherlands National Baseball Team. Currently, he is the Bench Coach of the Milwaukee Brewers Major League-team.

On Tuesday (February 20), Arizona was involved in a 3-team trade with Tampa Bay Rays and New York Yankees. The team acquired outfielder Steve Souza, Jr. (Rays) and righthanded pitcher Taylor Widener (Yankees), while infielder Brandon Drury went to the Yankees and lefthanded pitcher Anthony Banda to the Rays. In the same trade, the Rays got second baseman Nick Solak from the Yankees. Also, two players to be named later will transfer from Arizona to Tampa Bay. The addition of Souza gives the D-Backs more depth in the outfield, especially since free agent J.D. Martinez signed with Boston Red Sox on Monday. Martinez signed a 5-year contract for 110 million dollar. In July last year, Martinez joined Arizona in a trade with Detroit Tigers.

While the temperature in Arizona normally is very nice around this time of year, it wasn't that warm today, as it was only 15 degrees Celsius (59 Fahrenheit).

...Non-roster player Kristopher Negrón started as...
...short stop for D-Backs; On the photo, he plays for...
...the team in an exhibition game against the...
...Netherlands during the World Baseball Classic... March last year...
(© Photo: Henk Seppen)
Arizona opened the score in the bottom of the first inning off of starter Ryan Hingst With runners on second and third base and one out, Christian Walker delivered a 2-run single.

Arizona-starter Taylor Clarke encountered no problems in the top of the first inning, but his successor Yuhei Nakaushiro ran into problems in the second inning. The Japanese lefthander got the bases loaded after three consecutive singles, then gave up a runscoring single to Scott Mehan. After a force out at the plate, ASU scored the tying run when pinch-hitter Myles Denson walked. That marked the end for Nakaushiro. Andury Acevedo took over and closed the at bat with a strikeout. Both Clarke and Nakaushiro are non-roster players and were invited for Spring Training. Acevedo is a Minor League-player, who was added to the team for today's game.

Most players used by the D-Backs in today's game were either non-roster players or added minor league-players. Only four players who are on the 40-man roster started, being first baseman Christian Walker, second baseman Ildemaro Vargas, third baseman Jack Reinheimer and rightfielder Jeremy Hazelbaker. They left the game after four complete innings.

Arizona Diamondbacks re-took the lead in the bottom of the fifth inning. Evan Marzilli led off with a walk and stole second base. With two outs, he scored on a triple by Tony Renda to put the D-Backs ahead, 3-2.

The Diamondbacks then took more distance by adding three runs in the sixth at bat. With two outs, a run was scored on a single by Kevin Cron. Hereafter, the bases then got loaded and a pitching change followed. Two more runs were then scored when Kevin Medrano walked and Marty Herum was hit by a pitch.

These also were the final runs in the game, as it was decided to end it after six complete innings.

The game was a real exhibition game with multiple changes, which kept the Official Scorer busy. ASU used some players only in offense, who batted for others, who only played in defense. Because of this, four ASU-players re-entered for each other frequently. This, combined with some other changes, resulted in ASU using 14 pinch-hitters and made 18 defensive changes. Both teams used seven pitchers. The Diamondbacks used 23 players, including their seven pitchers. But it marked the beginning of a new season.
Play Ball!

(February 21)

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