D-backs, Dodgers discuss their trip to Australia

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- On Wednesday and Thursday, the D-backs had their pitchers throwing simulated games on four different fields at the same time.

So which ones did pitching coach Mike Harkey and bullpen coach Mel Stottlemyre Jr. watch?

All of them.

The fields are each equipped with three fixed cameras. One from behind home plate, the other from center field and the third in one of the dugouts to give a side view of the pitcher.

After practice, the D-backs coaches are able to cue up any pitcher and watch those they may have missed live or want to look at further. The video is also available for pitchers if they want to review their performance.

"We always try to tape as much as we can," D-backs manager Kirk Gibson said. "We store and put it in our system so you can go back and watch the whole session if you want to. We'll watch the tape more and see where they were trying to locate and how much they located."

Sen. McCain drops by D-backs Spring Training

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Arizona Senator John McCain visited D-backs Spring Training on Thursday.

McCain, who attends numerous regular-season games, watched some of the club's simulated game with manager Kirk Gibson atop a tower that sits in the middle of the practice fields.

"He's a baseball fan," Gibson said. "It was an interesting conversation with him. He's very decorated, and I respect what he does in service of our country. It was interesting to get the time to share a few words with him. He's very passionate about what he does."

When practice was over, McCain walked through the D-backs' clubhouse and was greeted by several players, including Josh Collmenter, who came over to shake his hand and have a picture taken with him.

"I voted for him in Texas in 2008," Minor League pitcher Chase Anderson said, referring to the Senator's presidential run. "I'm a big John McCain fan. I mean, just what he's about. I really like his views on things. He's been a hero of mine, and my dad has liked him for a really long time. He's just a really good person all around. It brought chills to me, a little bit. It was a cool moment."

D-backs catcher Miguel Montero spoke privately with McCain about the unrest in his home country of Venezuela.

Worth noting

• Thursday was the one-year anniversary of the snowstorm that blanketed Salt River Fields and forced the D-backs to travel to the A's Spring Training facility in Phoenix.

"We lost three days and had to go to Papago Park," Gibson said. "This year, the weather has been outstanding and a lot of people have come out and we've gotten a lot of good, quality work in."

• Gibson gave his team a rare day off Friday with the facility scheduled to be closed to players.

Because they began Spring Training a week earlier than most teams, the D-backs have had ample time to prepare for Cactus League action, which begins Wednesday against the Dodgers. In an effort to not burn his players out, Gibson has tried mixing in short workout days and Friday's off-day.

"We'll be ready for Wednesday, that's for sure," Gibson said.

• Early camp for the Arizona Minor Leaguers is in full swing. The team invited 50 players, mostly pitchers and catchers to help them get their arms in shape. Another 30 players showed up on their own.

"It gives guys a chance to kind of ease into it and build them up slowly," farm director Mike Bell said. "I think it's been a great program for us."