Surprise, It’s Arizona!

I completely understand the Arizona Diamondbacks thinking when it came to establishing their Spring Training base. Tucson seemed very logical. First it would be the home to their Triple-A Affiliate the Tucson Sidewinders. Second it would allow them the opportunity to extend their fan base to be expanded to a more state-wide basis than it would be if they were based in the Phoenix valley. Third, it does allow the anticipation to build towards the regular season. While I would have no problem seeing the Diamondbacks every day during Spring Training and continuing the excitement throughout the regular season; I am not a typical fan (and so I have been told on numerous occasions).

It’s not as though Tucson is that far away and besides the Diamondbacks do come to the valley several times during the spring to play other teams in the Cactus League. Today marked the first of such an occasion. Arizona travelled to Surprise to take on the Texas Rangers at Surprise Stadium. The Rangers and the Kansas City Royals have shared this training facility since 2002. When first built Surprise Stadium felt like the middle of nowhere but with the substantial growth of the Phoenix valley it now has an almost downtown feel to it. I always like going to Surprise. It has a closeness and the site lines are great regardless of where you sit. It always surprises me how many people attend games at Surprise. The Rangers and Royals are not the most popular teams around and neither have had a lot of success in the recent years yet the stadium always seems filled to near capacity. Today the crowds seemed smaller than normal with 5,597 people in attendance to see Brandon Webb make his second start of the spring. He threw 3 innings allowing 2 runs on 4 hits with one run coming on a home run by Michael Young. The Diamondbacks offense again showed up in force led by Conor Jackson who seemed to be channeling Tony Clark going 2-4 with a blistering 6 runs batted in hitting a grand slam and collecting a triple in the process to bring his spring average to .412. Jackson has a lot to prove in this his third season with Arizona. He no longer has Tony Clark looking over his shoulder and will have to prove that he is capable of producing offensively and defensively to be the Diamondbacks everyday first baseman. So far this spring Conor is looking relaxed at the plate but as everyone is quick to say, “They don’t put your Spring Training stats on the back of your baseball card.” The question is whether this hot hitting stroke will continue this spring and carry forward to the regular season when it begins in Cincinnati. Until then the Diamondbacks can celebrate a little at the success they had in their first game in the valley of the sun. Now it is really starting to feel like spring has arrived.

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