PHOENIX -- For Ken Kendrick, the beginning of baseball season is not the first pitcher-catcher workout of Spring Training. Nor is it the first full-squad workout.
For the D-backs' managing general partner, the 2011 season officially got underway Saturday with the Arizona Diamondbacks Subway FanFest at Chase Field.
An estimated 12,500 attended the event, which featured tours of the clubhouse, question-and-answer sessions with players, autograph and photo sessions and a host of interactive inflatables.
"This is the real start of it here for me," Kendrick said as he mingled on the field with fans. "You have the players here with the fans interacting, and you have the people here who really, really care about the Diamondbacks. These are our core fans that are always here and I enjoy getting to see them and see how excited they are about things getting going again."
There were a lot of new faces for fans to familiarize themselves with, from starter Armando Galarraga to reliever Kam Mickolio.
Manager Kirk Gibson's coaching staff was there as well, including newcomers Alan Trammell, Don Baylor, Charles Nagy and Eric Young.
"It's nice to see the fans," catcher Miguel Montero said. "We're having a lot of fun with them today. It's always good. I see a lot of people out here that are supporting us and now we just have to support them with some more wins."
Kendrick said he sensed a lot of optimism among fans after a season in which the D-backs made significant organizational changes. Gone are GM Josh Byrnes and manager A.J. Hinch, and in their place are Kevin Towers and Gibson.
The D-backs' pitchers and catchers start reporting to the club's new Spring Training facility -- Salt River Field at Talking Stick -- on Sunday.
"It's a chance for a new beginning in various ways," Kendrick said. "You start with Salt River, the new Spring Training complex, and Kevin Towers, a new general manager with a great history, Gibby getting his first opportunity to put together a coaching staff and a big change in the roster. So you're hopeful heading into the spring, and I'm enthusiastic about getting good, and I think the chances are that we'll be pretty good."
Steve Gilbert is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Inside the D-backs, and follow him on Twitter @dbackswriter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.