Diamondbacks And Mercury Return; Other Arizona Pro Teams To Follow
For those of you missing the crack of a bat, the bounce of a basketball or the slap of a stick, the sports world is set to make its return this weekend. And you’ll be able to hear those sounds of sport even better now as pro sports adapts to a fan-less environment.
The Arizona Diamondbacks make their debut this weekend in Major League Baseball’s pandemic-shortened season with a four-game series in San Diego against the Padres.
Beginning the season nearly four months late presents a challenge for D-Backs manager Torey Lovullo in that they haven’t seen their opponent in a while.
“You know, the first month of a baseball season is always hard anyways because it’s kind of like the new start of a season, things aren’t carrying over from last year, guys making adjustments, learning a new pitch, changing delivery, but we’re gonna go with it,” Lovullo said this week.
Instead of the normal 162-game regular season, major league teams will play only 60, 40 against division opponents. The other 20 are interleague matchups. The Diamondbacks, who won 85 games last season and were in playoff contention, added a couple of key pieces in 2020.
Ace pitcher Madison Bumgarner signed an $85 million, five-year deal with the D-Backs during the offseason after spending 11 years in San Francisco. Arizona makes its home debut on July 30 against the Dodgers at Chase Field.
Meanwhile, along with their NBA siblings, the WNBA’s Phoenix Mercury is also in a bubble getting ready to play basketball again. The league’s 12 teams are all together in one place practicing at an athletics academy in Bradenton, Florida, with their season openers this weekend.
Mercury center Britney Griner, runner-up for last year’s league MVP, says she initially decided not to play this summer due to concerns over coronavirus.
“And then I changed my mind after talking with my wife. Basketball is a big part of my life. Me without basketball is a little different, not ready just yet to give it up,” Griner said.
Thirty-eight-year-old Diana Taurasi, the league’s all-time leading scorer, will return for her 16th season, all with Phoenix. The Mercury make their season debut Saturday in a nationally-televised game against the Los Angeles Sparks.
The Phoenix Suns resume their delayed season next week with a game against the Washington Wizards. All NBA games will be played under the bubble at Disney’s Wide World of Sports complex in Orlando.
In the National Hockey League, the Coyotes take part in a playoff-qualifying round matchup against the Nashville Predators that begins on Aug. 2. The Coyotes' first exhibition game is July 30 against the Vegas Golden Knights in Edmonton, one of two so-called "hub cities" where games will be played. Toronto is the other. The conference and NHL Finals will also be in Edmonton.