Confident and well-armed D-backs hold first spring training workout

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Archie Bradley is in the running to be the D-backs' next closer. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) Archie Bradley is in the running to be the D-backs' next closer. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
All five starters from last year return for 2018. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) All five starters from last year return for 2018. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
Greinke, for the third straight year, will be the team’s Opening Day starter after going 17-7 in 2017. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) Greinke, for the third straight year, will be the team’s Opening Day starter after going 17-7 in 2017. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
“We love the five that we have,” said manager Torey Lovullo. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) “We love the five that we have,” said manager Torey Lovullo. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
SCOTTSDALE, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) -

A season removed from an unexpected run to the 2017 NLDS, the 2018 Arizona Diamondbacks opened spring training Wednesday morning under grey skies at Salt River Fields. The book on 2017 may be closed, but the feelings linger.

“You move on from last year and you rebuild,” said starting pitcher Robbie Ray. “We have that taste in our mouths from the postseason and we want to get it back.”

Coming off a 93-win season in 2017, the D-backs return their entire starting rotation, headlined by all-stars Ray and Zack Greinke. Greinke, for the third straight year, will be the team’s Opening Day starter after going 17-7 in 2017.

[READ MORE: Diamondbacks had great year despite postseason loss]

“We love the five that we have,” said manager Torey Lovullo. “But when you’re starting off with Zack Greinke and knowing that he’s going to go out and execute a game plan and give you a chance to win every fifth day, it’s a nice place to start."

[READ MORE: D-backs skipper Torey Lovullo named NL Manager of the Year]

While the starting rotation appears to be set, the D-backs bullpen will be constructed over the course of spring training. With Fernando Rodney off to the Minnesota Twins, the D-backs closer role is wide open. Archie Bradley is expected to get a strong look after serving as Rodney’s set-up man a season ago.

“I just want to win, man,” said Bradley while brushing off any personal desire to hold the job. “Just like last year, Torey is going to put us in spots that are best for us to succeed in and that’s ultimately what it comes down to."

[RELATED: Arming for 2018: Hirano arrives from Japan hoping to bolster D-backs bullpen]

Expected to battle Bradley for the closer job, newcomers Yoshihisa Hirano and Brad Boxberger. Boxberger has battled injuries the past two seasons but was an American League All-Star in 2015 when he earned 41 saves for the Tampa Bay Rays.

[READ MORE: Diamondbacks acquire Boxberger from Tampa Bay]

“The goal is just to pitch healthy and keep winning,” said Boxberger. “Any way that helps the team win is what we’re looking to do here.”

While the day belonged to pitchers and catchers, an empty clubhouse locker remained, a not-so-subtle reminder that slugger J.D. Martinez remains unsigned.

[RELATED: Martinez gone but D-backs return formidable roster]

“You guys pay attention,” said a laughing Lovullo, signifying the locker is absolutely being saved for the possible return of Martinez. “J.D. was a huge part of our ballclub last year and there are now 30 teams that are available to him and I’ll leave it at that. I don’t know anything else.”

Lovullo, the 2017 National League Manager of the year will have a different challenge in his second season – embracing the success of a season ago but at the same time, making sure his 2018 squad is ready to elevate its level its play in a rugged National League West.

[MORE: Arizona Diamondbacks stories]

“To get all those guys back healthy, with one more year experience is going to be a very good starting point for us,” said Lovullo. “But as I mentioned to them today, it doesn’t mean we can just walk up to the starting line and run the race and expect to win. We have to get back to who we believe we know we are.”

And overtaking the Dodgers in the division or the playoffs will likely require an even better effort because as fun as 2017 was in that clubhouse, it did not produce the ending D-backs players and coaches were hoping for.

“Getting swept, I still remember that,” said Bradley. “In case anyone else forgot.”

“We’re hungry,” said Ray. “[The loss in the NLDS] is a bitter taste right now but we are building off it.”

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