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Grace grateful to return for D-backs Fantasy Camp

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The Arizona Diamondbacks are holding their eighth annual Fantasy Camp this week at their Spring Training complex at Salt River Fields in Scottsdale, Ariz. Steve Gilbert, who covers the D-backs for MLB.com, is taking part in the camp and is sharing his experiences.

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Mark Grace being in attendance at D-backs Fantasy Camp had been a given since the camp began in 2006, but this year there was some question whether he would be here.

The former first baseman was removed as the team's television color commentator in August when he was arrested for DUI for the second time in 15 months.

"They had no choice," Grace said of the D-backs' decision. "They had told me that this was going to happen if it happened again. And it happened again. I blame myself on that. Accountability is a big thing for me. I try to teach my kids accountability, and I tried to demand that from my teammates and I try to be the same. I realize that nobody did this to me. I did it to myself, and I'm the one to blame."

While they hired former manager Bob Brenly to replace Grace in the booth, the organization did not turn its back on him.

"Derrick [Hall, D-backs president] has really been amazing and supportive throughout the whole thing even when I had to go," Grace said. "Not many organizations would do this, and I think they're showing amazing class from [managing general partner Ken Kendrick] to Derrick, to everybody that has allowed me to come back and wear the colors."

Said Hall, "Mark has always been an important part of our family, so we would naturally be here to support him. While he still has some legal issues to overcome, we look forward to his future involvement in the organization."

Campers welcomed Grace back with open arms. He addressed his situation at the opening night dinner Sunday and thanked the campers for the support he has received from them since August.

"The amount of campers who have reached out has really been humbling," Grace said. "This is like a big family, and they've been great to me."

Grace spent the first 13 years of his career with the Cubs, with whom he collected 2,201 of his 2,245 hits, but while his time with the D-backs was far briefer, it included a World Series title in 2001 and nearly nine seasons as a broadcaster.

"Ever since I signed my name on the dotted line back in 2001," he said. "I've been 11 years, 12 years in this organization and I certainly consider myself a Diamondback."

Grace declined to talk specifically about his case because it is still pending. He said he has a trial date coming up, but it's also possible a settlement could be reached.

"The last 5 1/2 months have not been much fun," Grace said. "They really haven't, and it's still not over. There's still a long ways to go in this thing. But whatever happens, I'm going to accept and do what needs to be done.

"I don't know right now what the future is other than tomorrow I'm going to be here at the park."

Steve Gilbert is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @SteveGilbertMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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