The D-backs are holding their sixth annual Fantasy Camp this week down at their Spring Training complex in Tucson, Ariz. Steve Gilbert, who covers the Diamondbacks for MLB.com, is taking part in the camp and will be writing a daily diary of his experiences.
TUCSON, Ariz. -- By Day Three of Fantasy Camp, you can tell that the amount of games is beginning to take its toll on the guys.
For one thing, the trainer's room is getting more crowded -- and for another, the hallways appear to be tilted, judging by the way the guys are walking. Also, the amount of ground guys cover in the field, which was not good early in the week, is getting smaller and smaller by the day.
And yet, despite all the aches and pains, the bumps and bruises and the wounded egos, there's no place these guys would rather be.
Case in point is my good friend Gregg Simon, who I mentioned on Tuesday took a pop fly off his right eye. As you can tell by the picture of Simon, the eye was not looking good on Wednesday. That didn't stop him from putting his uniform on and getting back out there with his teammates.
"That right there is what I love about coming to this camp," longtime Major League third baseman Matt Williams said. "You look at Simon last night, his eye all swollen shut, you know it's got to be killing him -- and all he can talk about is how excited he is to get back on the field the next day. It's the passion that these guys have for being out there that makes it so much fun for us as coaches."
And that's the thing that year after year never ceases to amaze me. We've got staff here who have participated as players at the highest level of their profession. Some, like Williams, are big league coaches and others, like Greg Colbrunn, are coaching or managing in the Minor Leagues now -- or, in the case of Luis Gonzalez, hold important executive roles.
Still, these guys love coming to camp to work with those whose athletic primes have long since passed and those who weren't at an elite level, even when they were younger.
"But everyone here loves the game," Williams said. "It doesn't matter the skill level, they love it and they have a passion for it, a respect for the game -- and you can't help but want to be around that."
And so on Tuesday when Colbrunn's team had a bye in the afternoon, he was out there flipping balls for two hours to each member of his team, giving personal instruction as if we were the prospects he coaches in the Yankees' system.
Then, early this morning, former big league catcher Damian Miller was throwing batting practice to those who wanted to get in some early swings before Kangaroo Court.
Gold Glove outfielder Steve Finley was in the trainer's room for a while, getting ice on his shoulder from all the batting practice he has thrown to his team this week.
"It's what we do," Williams said. "Baseball is what we know, it's what we love to do, love to be around."
The same can be said for every member of the camp, that's for sure.