The Arizona Diamondbacks will begin their 2008 campaign when pitchers and catchers report to the Kino Sports Complex in Tucson on February 15. This is one day later than many teams who begin their Spring Training on Valentine’s Day. It just seems so appropriate to spend a day dedicated to love on the baseball field. Besides, with the Diamondbacks now sporting Sedona Red as their primary color they would fit right in with all the lacy hearts and archery toting winged midgets. The team missed out on a golden opportunity there but I guess it won’t kill me if they start a day later. Well maybe the wait will kill me; February 15 is still three weeks and one day away. The first organized workout for pitchers and catchers will occur a day later on February 16. So technically I am going to have to wait two days before actual baseball starts for the Diamondbacks. The odds of the wait killing me just went up 33 percent. Position players are scheduled to report on February 20 with the first full team workout scheduled for the morning of February 21. That is six days after pitchers and catchers report so technically baseball doesn’t really begin for the team until February 21 increasing my death by waiting quotient by another level. I am not sure the team understands the gravity that this delay may cause. But rather than stress about future events I decided to focus my anxiety on the here and now.
With the players on the 40-man roster all signed, sealed, and to be delivered on February 20 it was time for the Diamondbacks to focus their efforts on players they would invite to Spring Training as non-roster invitees. This is the part that makes me all excited. For just a brief moment in time I envision my cell phone ringing and when I answer I hear on the other end, “Hello, is this Jeff? Hey this is Josh Byrnes, you know the General Manager of the Arizona Diamondbacks? Well a bunch of us were sitting around the office today working on seating arrangements for the welcome dinner for the 2008 Diamondbacks players and we noticed your name wasn’t on the guest list. None of us could believe it. I mean it just would not be Spring Training if we didn’t invite you. So I thought I would call and see if you were available to drive down to Tucson for dinner and maybe a workout with the team. We don’t really have an open roster spot but we could invite you as a non-roster invitee? What do you say, can you make it?” I of course would play it kind of cool mentioning that I needed to check my calendar because I may be having brunch with the “great Troy Tulowitzki” which of course would make both of us laugh to the point where milk comes out of your nose. But then I would get serious and say I would love to be there. Of course that hasn’t happened in the first 10 years of the organization and I couldn’t even get my wife to send me to Fantasy Camp so I wasn’t going to hold out any hope. Still it’s nice to dream especially when you’re as close to death as I am having to wait an extra week before Spring Training actually starts. It’s not like I would take up much room either. I’m a relatively small guy at 6 foot 1 inch and 190 pounds. And I really don’t eat much so I really wouldn’t be a burden. When I heard that the Diamondbacks were going to announce their non-roster invitees I kept my fingers crossed and made sure my cell phone had a full charge. The day came and went and my cell phone was quieter than a church prayer.
The Diamondbacks once again passed me over instead deciding to go a different direction. At least when Luis Gonzalez was let go; they took him to breakfast. I didn’t even get an empty Pop Tart package out of the deal. And it was obviously not a space limiting thing since the team invited 17 people to camp. The breakout included eight pitchers: Right-handers Hector Ambriz, Barry Enright, Matt Green, Conner Robertson, Wes Roemer, Brooks Brown (I really want to see him pitch), and former first round choice Jarrod Parker. The list also included left hander Mark Rosen. Hey, I am left-handed and at one time I too pitched. Of course that was probably 15 years and three shoulder surgeries ago. But I figured if they let Byung-Hyun Kim pitch I couldn’t do much worse. The team also invited two catchers: Frank Curreri and Ed Easley. I guess they figured with eight additional pitchers they needed someone to throw to. The list also included three infielders: Jamie D’Antona, Donnie Kelly, and Jesus Merchan. The only name I knew of those three was D’Antona who I thought had a lot of promise. The list of invitees was rounded out with four outfielders: Trent Oeltjen, Gerardo Parra, Chris Rahl, and Tim Raines. Tim Raines, I thought he was just voted on by the writers association for the Hall of Fame. I’m younger than he is and at this juncture of our careers I might even be able to beat him from first to third on a well hit ball to the gaps. I was about to do some complaining until I learned that this is not the same Tim Raines; my bad. I would love to see Gerardo Parra in a game situation. I understand that the organization believes he has a higher upside than newly departed uber-prospect Carlos Gonzalez. If that is true he should be exciting to watch. So another year has passed and I was once again the bridesmaid never the bride. I have no idea what that saying means other than the fact that I will be sitting at home in Chandler while these 17 guys get to go to Tucson and practice with the team. I have to believe that I have been to more Diamondbacks games in my life than all of these guys put together. That has to account for something doesn’t it?