SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Zack Greinke won some points with newspaper columnists for his candor and rankled some folks in Australia when he told ESPNLosAngeles.com that he has "zero excitement" for playing the 2014 MLB season opener at the Sydney Cricket Ground.
Judging from their public comments, his fellow Dodgers don't share that opinion -- and if they do, they're taking the politically correct approach and keeping their grumbling to themselves. The same mindset applies to the Arizona Diamondbacks, who'll be experiencing a similar travel grind in making the trip to Australia.
"The consensus around this locker room is that guys are excited to go over there and be together," said Diamondbacks pitcher Bronson Arroyo. "Everything is about team-building here. I hear guys saying, 'I want to go on that trip.' Everybody is worried a little about the body clock. But other than that, guys are pumped."
The Dodgers and Diamondbacks have made numerous changes to their spring routine in preparation for Australia. They arrived in Arizona a week before most other clubs, and will leave the Cactus League for Sydney on March 16. After playing a two-game series at the Cricket Ground (a night game followed by a matinee, which in Eastern time, will both fall on March 22, at 4 a.m. and 10 p.m.), the teams will return home and play several more exhibition games (the Diamondbacks in Arizona, the Dodgers in Los Angeles) before the real games resume. The Dodgers play the Padres in San Diego on March 30, while Arizona hosts the San Francisco Giants on March 31.
Diamondbacks pitcher Brandon McCarthy played for the 2012 Oakland Athletics, who began the season with two games against the Seattle Mariners in Tokyo, and said players are bound to be apprehensive about anything that throws off their routine. The flight to and from the U.S. to Australia is about 17 hours long. But McCarthy thinks the first-class travel arrangements and weeklong gap between the Australia games and the resumption of the regular season should give players ample time to recover.
"It's kind of like you're scared of getting in the pool before you know how cold it is, but within one minute of being in the pool you're like, 'Oh, OK, I'm glad I went swimming,'" McCarthy said.
"At the very least, even if you had all the concerns in the world and didn't want to go, you still get out of spring training early, which is a win. It's all in the mindset of how you approach it. If you go in looking forward to it, it will probably be a blast. If you think it's going to suck, then maybe it will suck."
Arroyo, who signed with the Diamondbacks as a free agent shortly before camp opened, said he's looking forward to visiting a country he's never seen. He's taking his agent, Terry Bross, along on the trip to Sydney.
Arroyo concedes that some fans might have a hard time relating to millionaire ballplayers complaining about taking an all-expenses-paid trip to Australia via private jet because they're afraid it might throw off their body clocks.
"We already get it from the salary standpoint," Arroyo said. "You try not to give people anything else to make them think we're a bunch of crybabies. The schedule is never perfect for anybody. Nothing is ever perfect."