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Collmenter, D-backs spring into Arizona action

Pitchers, catchers begin their preparation in advance of Opening Day in Australia

Collmenter, D-backs spring into Arizona action play video for Collmenter, D-backs spring into Arizona action

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Friday was Josh Collmenter's 28th birthday and the D-backs right-hander was exactly where he wanted to be as Arizona's pitchers and catchers went through their first workout of the spring.

"It's a birthday present for me to be around all the guys," Collmenter said. "That's the fun part -- getting to see everyone again and getting things kicked off. It's a little more laid back and lighthearted the first few days until everyone shows up, and then you start ramping up the intensity when we start approaching the games."

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The D-backs were the first Major League team to begin workouts this spring -- thanks to the fact that they will open the regular season on March 22-23 with a two-game series against the Dodgers in Sydney, Australia.

D-backs general manager Kevin Towers wandered the practice fields and was pleased with what he saw.

"It's good to see the guys out there," Towers said. "You've been kind of trying to get a feel for what your club is going to look like once they take the field and you start seeing them in uniform. It looks like everybody's taken care of themselves over the winter time."

Indeed, the D-backs appear to be healthy with only pitchers Daniel Hudson and Matt Reynolds -- both of whom had Tommy John Surgery and are expected to miss the season -- and outfielder Cody Ross limited in camp.

Ross, who fractured and dislocated his right hip last August, is said to be ahead of schedule in his rehab and the team thinks he might be ready in early April.

Though, at this time of the year, there is optimism throughout baseball.

"Everybody is excited," Towers said. "I'm sure it will be like that in the 29 other camps. To me it's the best time of the year in baseball. Great time of the year."

D-backs workouts are open to the public with no charge for admission or parking in the Desert Parking Lot.

As in each of past three springs that manager Kirk Gibson has been in charge, there is a spot on the daily schedule for players to sign autographs.

"We've made it a priority," Gibson said. "We're happy to do it. We're happy to make somebody happy. We're happy to have them want to know the people they're watching on TV or at the ballpark. The other thing is as a player, when you do it it's fulfilling. You know you're giving back, and we all know in this room that the right thing is to give back."

Team president/CEO Derrick Hall made sure that when the layout for the D-backs side of the Salt River Fields complex was designed that it gave fans easy access to players.

As it is, Spring Training is generally the best time for fans to meet players.

"This is the time when we interact more," Gibson said. "Though we have our competitive juices flowing it's not the same as when we get into the season. If they have the time to come out here we should have the time to give them some appreciation in return."

During Friday's first workout, fans were treated to the starting pitcher's conditioning run, which has become a rite of passage in recent years, with pitchers running five laps around the field.

"It's probably more the mental psyche going into it," Collmenter said. "It's more shrouded in myth than anything. You just have to do it, there's no [required] time."

That's a good thing for left-hander Wade Miley, who finished last and was lapped by Patrick Corbin. Bo Schultz finished a close second to Corbin.

"Wade's like an endurance animal," Collmenter said with a smile. "He's built to run a long way for a long time. He's like a diesel engine, you just let him crank a little bit and let him go."

There was a lot of attention focused on top prospect Archie Bradley, who threw a bullpen session.

Bradley, ranked as the top pitching prospect in baseball by MLB.com, was expected to compete for the No. 5 spot in the rotation, but his chances of doing that took a hit later in the day, when the D-backs agreed to terms with free-agent pitcher Bronson Arroyo, according to a club source.

"It was good, definitely excited to get out there, be with all the guys, throw the first bullpen, just kind of get the first day under my belt and get it out of the way," Bradley said. "There's a lot more cameras, a lot more eyes, it's just different, but it's fun."

Steve Gilbert is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Inside the D-backs, and follow him on Twitter @SteveGilbertMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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