75 degrees and sunny with a light breeze blowing from left to right across the beautiful green grass. It was a fantastic day for baseball and the (officially) sellout crowd of 11,469 enjoyed the fine company of their fellow fans, and from the looks of things more than a few cold adult beverages.
Yes, the Arizona Diamondbacks lost to the San Diego Padres in a close 3-2 game but that mattered little to those in attendance -- at least those attending as spectators that is.
"It's disappointing when you lose. We've been in virtually every game so if we just tune things up a little bit we'll be fine. We didn't make any errors today, which I like," increasingly sun tanned manager Kirk Gibson gruffly explained.
In a familiar refrain, the Diamondback starting pitcher did his job well, only to see a reliever give up a big inning and the team strike out seven times, include three in the fourth inning after Xavier Nady hit a leadoff double.
For Ian Kennedy, the key to his three inning, four strikeout, no walks, no runs, two hit performance was timing.
"Physically, I felt good in my previous outing but I wasn't happy with my tempo. I was leaving too many balls over the plate. But this time I felt like my tempo was good. I tried slowing down. I worked on that this week in the bullpen. (Charles) Nagy said something, that maybe I was a little bit too excited the first time out so I made a note that the next time I was going to slow down. Today in my warmups I slowed down a lot," Kennedy said.
Juan Gutierrez was touched up for all three runs but his skipper insisted he looked better and has faith he will be fine after a few more tune-up outings. Gutierrez says he's still is having issues controlling his breaking pitches. Typical Spring Training stuff...hopefully.
A point of pride, emphasis, and tactical advantage to this year's team is holding runners. Gibby was pleased,
"(Catcher John) Hester threw a runner out. We held runners very well. It's much better, not where we want to be. They're trying to throw the ball over the plate and hold runners, it's something new. I thought they did a good job in that in all respects there."
Young Guy Report
Baseball America has 19-year-old short stop Chris Owings as the organization's sixth-ranked prospect. So far, he's caught the eye of his manager who called him a "good looking player" with a sly grin on his weathered face.
Gibson was impressed with Owings' savvy in the field and talked about the way he quickly catches the ball and applies the tag. Owings went 1-1 today and is 1-3 with a walk and two runs scored in his first two games (four at-bats). He reportedly has nice pop in his bat for an infielder.