D-backs rehash rivalry in spring setting
Clubs welcomes NL West foe Dodgers to Tucson for first time
TUCSON, Ariz. -- Friday's matchup between the Diamondbacks and Dodgers offered Cactus League fans an unprecedented chance to see the division rivals before the regular season opens.
Arizona has long enjoyed the opportunity to host three of the other four National League West teams throughout the spring, but with the Dodgers longtime residence in Florida's Grapefruit League, they've always been the division's X factor as the season starts.
"You don't typically see them for a Spring Training game," manager Bob Melvin said before the teams took the field. "It'll be interesting to see them in Arizona, No. 1, and then kind of the new revamped Dodgers, No. 2. It's good to actually see the only divisional foe that we have that we don't see in Spring Training. Get kind of a look and feel for them, albeit limited. It gives you a little bit of an insight into how they're doing things differently."
The limited look may in fact be preferable to some managers, who don't care to have opposing hitters get too familiar with their pitching staffs, but Melvin welcomed the prospect of getting a better preseason read on the Dodgers when they are expected to move their spring camp to Glendale, Ariz., in the Phoenix area next year.
"I think it's good, yet when you're in as close proximity as we are to the Rockies, that can be a little much," Melvin said of his Tucson neighbors. "We play them so much, it seems like we always open up against them, whether it's the first series or the second series. We play them three times before mid-May. So that's probably a bit much. But it's always nice to have a little bit of a feel for what they're doing, what they're trying to do. The Dodgers are the one team, until we get into the season, we don't really know.
Dodgers manager Joe Torre was making his first trip to the Cactus League as a manager, though he had played an exhibition game in Arizona on the way to open the season on the West Coast in his playing days, and as the manager of the Yankees he played a two-game exhibition series with the Diamondbacks before the 2006 season. Torre managed an Interleague series in Arizona in 2004 and lost all four games played in Arizona during the 2001 World Series.
"They're nice setups," Torre said of his second look at a Cactus League ballpark since the Dodgers arrived in Arizona on Wednesday. "The one thing I do know is the number of clubs that have come out here. I never trained anywhere as a player other than Florida. But when you look at the press guide in Spring Training and you have both Florida and Arizona in there and you see over on the front page the state of Florida and on the back page is the city of Phoenix, and you realize how much more condensed it is and concentrated.
"It makes more sense. Because if you want to get work done in Spring Training, the less time you spend on the road, the better off you're going to be. That's the biggest issue in Spring Training,. It's not who you play, but how much work you can get done."
Owen Perkins is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.