BY: ED COLE
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. – It was a busy first day of practice on Thursday for pitchers, catchers, and their manager, Chip Hale.
Hale was busy bouncing between ball fields, checking on his players and also signing autographs for fans when he had time.
In all, it was a pretty fun day for Hale and his guys to be around the Dback Nation, and show them a good time.
“I was trying to get around to everybody, and I hate to say no to someone for an autograph, but I’m trying to get to stations. I sign (autographs) after,” Hale said. “There are more people, and it’s great, the excitement’s great, (and) I’m sure the weekend will even have more when school’s out.”
“Around town, I see people, whether I’m working out, and they’re excited,” Hale said. “They’re excited about the Dbacks, (and) they’re excited about the Evolution. It’s been a fun offseason for us, (but) now we’re in, and we gotta get it going, and prove it on the field. It doesn’t matter what it says on paper.”
Hale promised that the team would go back to the basics in Spring Training, and he stayed true to his word, as the drills the pitchers and catchers ran were, in Hale’s words, “very elementary” for them.
“We’re gonna start from Ground Zero, and work our way up, and really explain what we’re doing, and what we want to be done,” Hale said. “It’s good to get around, and watch everybody do them, and do them the right way. Not necessarily killing themselves, but the technique has been really good so far.”
Some things Hale looked for on Thursday, and will do moving forward in camp, is how his coaches interact with the players, and vice versa, and some of the language that’s used by his coaches when they’re instructing the players.
A bit of that language and the teaching methods impressed Hale, because some of it he’d never heard of, which is fine with him, because he trusts his coaches to do what’s needed to bring out the best in his players.
“I’m glad that the players are getting that from all the different coaches,” Hale said. “Effort, I’m looking at. I want to make sure no one’s limping around. If there is, grab them and ask them if they’re ok, because sometimes guys will try to be a hero at this point.”
“When I look at the guys throwing on the side, just making sure they’re throwing the ball down in the zone, and the bunters are getting the bunts down,” Hale said. “Trying to look at everything, and let the guys know that I’m out there watching, and I want this stuff done right.”
In watching Hale go from station to station, and sometimes just popping up out of thin air, you could tell he’s excited about what’s he’s got right now with the 67 players in camp. He’s not puffing his chest out, and bragging that this Diamondbacks team is his, and no one else can claim them. Hale is too humble a man to act that way. His approach with the team is that this is a family, and no one person is better than another, including him.
“I’m just happy to get them out there, and get them going,” Hale said. “It looks good on a sheet of paper, but it has to mesh, and these guys understand that. I said it yesterday, we want to be the most fundamentally sound team, (and) organization in baseball, from the Dominican League to Chase Field. That’s going to take some work, and they know that.”