SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Ben Petrick is still bringing his fans to their feet.
On Sunday morning, the former Major League catcher and current special advisor to the D-backs' Class A Short-season affiliate in Hillsboro, Ore., told his inspirational story to the club's Minor Leaguers. Petrick, who was drafted by the Rockies in the second round of the 1995 Draft, was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease in 2000 at the age of 23 and retired as a player three years later.
"It's harder to get into the minds of the younger players because they are young and as a young person, we all think we are invincible," said Petrick, a former Minor League teammate of Mike Bell, the D-backs' Director of Player Development. "It was harder for them to get wrapped up in my story, but hopefully, me being a ball player can help them relate. It went good. The staff seemed to enjoy it."
Petrick, who had a surgical procedure called Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS) to help him cope with the disease in 2010, has been a motivational speaker for years. He also wrote a book, "Forty Thousand to One." The title refers to his experience in going from playing in front of 40,000 fans at Coors Field to an audience of one -- his daughter, Makena. Petrick also coaches high school baseball in his hometown of Hillsboro.
"It's hard for me to see myself as an inspirational person because I'm just a regular guy who just happened to play baseball with a disease, who didn't want to quit with the disease and just kept going," Petrick said. "I try to live life and if that's inspiring to others, then great. If I can help others with my story, cool."
Petrick was being modest. He was given a standing ovation at the conclusion of his Sunday morning speech.
Delgado excited for baseball's return to Panama
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- D-backs right-hander Randall Delgado is looking forward to joining his teammates for Opening Day in Australia in March, but he will also keep an eye on another international showcase much closer to home.
Major League Baseball is returning to Panama for the first time since 1947 when the Yankees and the Marlins face each other next month for two games at Panama City's Rod Carew Stadium. The games will be held few hours away from Delgado's offseason home in Las Tablas.
The "Legend Series" will honor the legacy of Yankees closer Mariano Rivera, who is also from Panama, on March 15-16.
"Baseball in Panama is getting better and the country is getting what you can call a baseball fever," Delgado said. "The league is stronger. It's not as big as the other leagues, but there is talent there. The whole country is waiting for Mariano and the Yankees to come, not just baseball fans."
Delgado, who is out of Minor League options, is competing for a spot in the D-backs' starting rotation. He can also pitch out of the bullpen and said he is keeping an open mind.
"I'm a starter, but obviously, I'll do whatever they want me to do," he said. "I don't know what's going to happen and we'll see how Spring Training goes. I'll just do my job and it doesn't matter where it is."
And yes, Delgado plans on watching the "Legend Series," or at least the final few innings of each game.
"You think Mariano will throw an inning or two?" Delgado asked. "I know he is retired, but wouldn't that be great?"
Rodriguez goes back to basics to make D-backs
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Left-handed reliever Santos Rodriguez figured he needed to change his mechanics, so he went back to what worked best.
"I'm back to throwing more over-the-top, like I have for most of my career," Rodriguez, 26, said. "Last year, the White Sox wanted me to release the ball at a different arm angle, much lower, and it affected everything. My control was off, my velocity was down, everything was wrong."
Rodriguez was claimed off waivers from the White Sox last month and is vying for a spot in the organization. Last season, he went 2-0 with a 4.91 ERA in 47 2/3 innings and 61 strikeouts in 33 relief appearances four Double-A Birmingham and Triple-A Charlotte using the new arm-slot. He signed with the Braves in 2006 and was traded to the White Sox in 2008.
"I feel like everything is a lot better than it was," Rodriguez said. "I'm more comfortable with my mechanics and I feel stronger."
Rodriguez, who is from Samana, Dominican Republic, said he spent the offseason working out daily with pitching prospects Yordano Ventura of the Kansas City Royals and Lisalverto Bonilla of the Texas Rangers.
Rodriguez threw live batting practice on Sunday morning.
"He came over from the White Sox and we're hoping they gave up on him too early," D-backs manager Kirk Gibson said. "He's got a good arm and good stuff. He got here a little late. He threw the ball pretty well and you can see he's got something in him."