Believe it or not, baseball season is here.
At least for the Arizona Diamondbacks and Los Angeles Dodgers who have traveled “down under” to Sydney, Australia and will officially open the regular season this weekend before returning for a block of exhibitions followed by their home opener against the Giants on March 31.
Kirk Gibson and the Diamondbacks boarded the plane last weekend in Phoenix just hours after learning ace Patrick Corbin wouldn’t be joining them. A slight elbow tear has the lefty searching for a second opinion on whether to re-hab the injury or undergo Tommy John Surgery which would force the 2013 All-Star and 14-game-winner to miss the entire season.
Not the news Gibson or general manager Kevin Towers wanted to hear before the 16-hour trip. Both signed unspecified extensions this off-season and some inside baseball believe both could be let go if Arizona stumbles out of the gates. Don’t count SI.com and FOX baseball analyst Tom Verducci as one of those.
“I still think they’re committed to those two,” he explained to Sports360AZ.com’s Brad Cesmat in a recent phone interview. “I’m not sure it’s a make-or-break year right now. Certainly they want to see progress.”
Said progress will likely be much tougher with their front-line starter who carried them at times last season. Still, Verducci believes the addition of the second wild card gives teams in both leagues the opportunity to stay in contention, despite the usual bumps in the road of a 162-game season. He’s taking a wait-and-see-approach for the Dbacks, who are coming off back-to-back 81-81 seasons.
“They’ve made a lot of changes to this roster,” he said. “I think you have to let this team constitute and play out and see where it can take ‘ya.”
Verducci believes the Diamondbacks will be improved in most areas but feels the NL West is likely still the Chase Field pool jumpers to lose.
“I think all eyes are on the Dodgers,” Verducci explained. “They say they like the expectations on them. We’ll see how it plays out.”