Newcomers Avila, Boxberger Open Camp With D-backs

Despite a relatively quiet offseason league-wide where stars like J.D. Martinez and Jake Arrieta have yet to find new places of work, the Arizona Diamondbacks were able to address a few needs since the 2017 NLDS.

The club signed reliever Yoshi Hirano and former Tampa Bay Rays closer Brad Boxberger as well as bringing in catcher Alex Avila to replace Chris Iannetta.

While Avila was a recent signee and Boxberger moved to Arizona two weeks ago, they have wasted no time trying to acclimate to their new team.

“(The Diamondbacks) are a good, young, athletic team, a team that’s hungry,” Avila said. “One thing I stressed to (Torey Lovullo) and (Mike Hazen) when I spoke with them in the offseason was the times we played against Arizona, it almost felt like you were getting suffocated. You couldn’t really breathe trying to get them out and obviously their rotation had a really good season, their pitching as a whole had a real good season.” 

Avila, a long-time Detroit Tiger played with J.D. Martinez before both were traded midseason last year. Martinez apparently gave Arizona a ringing endorsement to Avila when he was considering them as a free agent destination.

Boxberger, who has spent the bulk of his career with the Tampa Bay Rays, said he saw the Diamondbacks’ success from afar over the last few years.

“It’s a team that’s on the rise,” Boxberger said. “Definitely with what they were able to do last year to compete and they were able to hold their own in this division is to show what they’re capable of and only got better from there.” 

Boxberger, Hirano and Archie Bradley seem to be three contenders for the closer’s role this season, and Torey Lovullo said the spring will help him and the rest of the front office determine each role in the bullpen.