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Rookies find new way to get in spirit of Spring Training

With Putz's help, young D-backs learn cheerleading routine as part of initiation

Rookies find new way to get in spirit of Spring Training

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Kirk Gibson has talked often this spring about getting his team out of its comfort zone.

The D-backs manager is referring to players not being afraid to try new things, or test what they feel are the limits of their capabilities.

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All of this gave veteran J.J. Putz an idea when it came to deciding on what to have the rookies in camp do as part of their initiation.

Last week, a handful of them were sent out to the annual Renaissance Fair dressed in period costumes. They were asked to participate in various activities and contests.

It was the third year in a row for that outing, and so for the rest of the rookies, Putz came up with something a little different.

"It's about getting them out of their comfort zone like Gibby talks about," Putz said.

So David Holmberg, Nick Ahmed, Ed Easley, Tuffy Gosewisch, Alfredo Marte, Chase Anderson, Chris Owings, Matt Davidson and first-year assistant trainer Ryan KiPanfilo were dispatched to nearby Chaparral High School on Thursday to learn some cheers.

As in cheerleading.

The Chaparral cheerleading team spent nearly two hours with the group teaching them a cheer routine. The cheerleaders were in their regular outfits while the players wore D-backs logo shorts and workout shirts.

"It was pretty hilarious," Gosewisch said. "I wish I could have watched it from their perspective."

Easley had an advantage over the other guys.

"We didn't really know what to expect," Easley said. "I married a cheerleader, so I was familiar with some of the moves. I've never obviously done them before."

Of course, just learning the cheers is not enough. The players will put on a show for their teammates during Saturday morning's stretch session on the agility field outside the main clubhouse.

"It's going to be funny," Gosewisch said. "We're awful, we know it, but we're just trying to have a good time with it."

The Chaparral cheerleaders will also be there to perform with the players.

"It's going to be a nice little tuneup for them before they go onto nationals," Putz said of one of Arizona's top cheerleading programs. "And on behalf of the Diamondbacks, we wish them all the best."

As for the players, Putz said the cheer that they will perform will be something to "fire up" the team.

And apparently, the final act is a closely-guarded secret.

"They're going to put on a little show, and there's an unbelievable surprise ending to the show," Putz said. "One for the ages."

While the players may have chosen to spend two hours a different way Thursday, they understood the team-building function that such a stunt provides.

"It's a lot more fun when they're over with, but it's not a big deal," Gosewisch said. "It's a matter of just trying to get us out of our comfort zones."

Putz said it was all done in a good spirit, pun very much intended.

"The guys had a blast," Putz said.

"It was fun," Easley said. "I think it's going to be even more fun for the guys tomorrow watching us perform it."

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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