By John Marshall, AP Sports Writer
The Arizona Diamondbacks reported to spring training on Monday with a roster pretty similar to the one from last season.
That’s just fine by them.
With new general manager Mike Hazen and manager Torey Lovullo at the helm, the Diamondbacks are planning to give their young players another shot to turn the organization around.
“We’re going to compete every night and see where that takes us,” Lovullo said. “We feel very strongly that we have the right types of players and the right type of team that will allow us to go out there and be competitive every single night.”
Arizona has been in a rut since winning the NL West in 2011, a downward spiral that culminated with a 69-93 season in 2016. That led to the firing of GM Dave Stewart and manager Chip Hale, along with a reorganization of the front office that diminished the power of Tony La Russa in baseball operations.
In their place are Hazen and Lovullo, who came from the Boston Red Sox in quick succession.
The Diamondbacks made few significant changes during the offseason, their biggest move being sending second baseman Jean Segura to Seattle in a four-player deal that brought right-hander Taijuan Walker to the desert.
Arizona is hoping Walker will help shore up a pitching staff that was arguably the worst in baseball last season.
Diamondbacks ace Zack Greinke got off to a slow start in Arizona and battled injuries last season, with no one else behind him picking up the slack.
Arizona’s pitchers and catchers reported to Salt River Fields on Monday hoping this year will be different. The full roster reports on Friday.
“There’s a lot of good dudes in this clubhouse, a lot of talent,” left-hander Robbie Ray said. “It’s just about coming together as a family, putting it together and everybody working for the main goal, which is winning the World Series.”
Greinke is healthy and at camp, but the Diamondbacks are in no rush to get him going, particularly with an extra week built into spring training this season. Greinke was not expected to throw a bullpen with the rest of Arizona’s pitchers on Tuesday, holding off until later in the week instead.
“He knows himself better than any pitcher I’ve had a chance to talk to,” Lovullo said. “He just knows that he wants to throw it a little bit later in the week.”
Another player the Diamondbacks hope to get more out of is Patrick Corbin.
The left-hander had Tommy John surgery in 2015 and was nowhere near the pitcher he had been before the injury. He was demoted to the bullpen and finished 5-13 with a 5.15 ERA, though he was able to string together a few strong appearances late in the season.
“With the injury, everything was kind of thrown off a little bit,” Corbin said. “It was good to go home for a little while and I have a place out here now, so I was able to come out early and get ready to go.”
The Diamondbacks are hoping right-hander Shelby Miller will be, too.
Arizona traded shortstop Dansby Swanson, the No. 1 overall draft pick in 2015, to Atlanta to get Miller, an All-Star in 2015.
Miller struggled from the start in his first season in the desert and finished 3-12 with a 6.15 ERA.
“He has a proven track record. He’s been successful and competed at a very elite level,” Lovullo said. “As athletes go, you can have a down year and I think that’s what happened with Shelby. He got a little bit behind and couldn’t quite catch up. Those are tough circumstances and every athlete has down years, but that’s what’s great about this game, you can turn the page.”