SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- As part of the D-backs' Give Back Jersey Program, several big leaguers participated alongside youngsters in an Ahwatukee Little League game on Saturday at Salt River Fields.
D-backs shortstop Didi Gregorius played some infield, center fielder A.J. Pollock took an at-bat and grounded out to first, pitcher Brad Ziegler threw an inning and outfielder Cody Ross played the role of the umpire.
"It was a blast, a once in a lifetime opportunity that I'm sure the kids won't forget," said Bill Norton, the coach for one of the participating teams. "For the players to not only come out, but to play with the kids side by side, that's just awesome. They'll probably not ever get to have that experience again, so it was great."
The kids weren't the only ones enjoying themselves, though. The D-backs players had smiles glued to their faces, encouraging and rooting on the Little Leaguers as if they were a Major League teammate.
"It's just amazing being here with the kids," Gregorius said. "When I was this young, guys like [former Major Leaguer] Andruw Jones came down [to Curaçao] and talked to us. Now I feel like I'm that guy for them. It's awesome and who knows, maybe they're the future D-backs."
The D-backs launched their Give Back Jersey Program earlier this month, donating uniforms and caps to more than 22,000 youth baseball and softball players and their coaches throughout Arizona communities. The Arizona Diamondbacks Foundation donated more than $500,000 to the program. Both teams Saturday wore jerseys given to them by the club.
John Terry, President of Ahwatukee Little League, called the program 'phenomenal' and said that because of the D-backs' contributions, his organization was able to lower signup fees and improve some of its fields.
Prospect Marzilli gets assist in camp from Parra
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- A defensive whiz who was largely known for his range and all-out playing style coming out of college in 2012, D-backs outfield prospect Evan Marzilli flaunted an exceedingly standout arm last year in his first full professional season.
Gunning down 14 baserunners for Class A Advanced Visalia, the 22-year-old finished second in outfield assists in the California League, just one behind the leader.
Now with the D-backs this spring after the club rewarded him with an invitation to big league camp, Marzilli is relishing the opportunity to work out with another outfielder who has been known to throw out a runner or two on the basepaths.
"Watching Gerardo Parra, that's one of the coolest things about being up here," Marzilli said. "He's one of the best, if not the best, at it in the game. So getting to see a guy like that, and talking to him about what he sees and what he thinks out there, you learn a lot from him."
Parra, a two-time Gold Glove winner, has accumulated 54 outfield assists since breaking into the Majors in 2009. Last year, he led the National League with 15.
Turning into a spectator at times, Marzilli said he has been watching Parra carefully since camp began, trying to pick up anything he can from the D-backs' right fielder.
"He's always so relaxed," Marzilli said. "He's never focused on failure, he's always thinking about getting someone out. He won't sit back on his heels; he's always doing something proactive. It's really cool to see a guy like that in action."
Marzilli, the D-backs' eighth-round Draft pick in 2012, also came on strong at the plate toward the end of the last season, hitting .333 with 10 extra-base hits and 23 RBIs in August, earning Minor League Player of the Month honors. Marzilli hopes to begin the season with Double-A Mobile, but first he's aiming to make a strong impression with the D-backs over the next month.
"I want to make sure the coaches see me and remember me for something," Marzilli said. "I want them to have me in the back of their heads when I leave."
Gosewisch hoping for longer look in 2014
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- After finally getting his first taste of the big leagues late last year, following parts of nine seasons in the Minors, D-backs catcher Tuffy Gosewisch has a prime opportunity to knock out another first this spring: making an Opening Day roster.
Hoping to back up Miguel Montero, Gosewisch is competing alongside veteran Henry Blanco in D-backs camp.
"This is by far the best shot I've ever had," Gosewisch said. "I've never had an opportunity like this in the spring, so I'm working as hard as I can all the time. If I'm on the field, I'm trying to get better. If I'm off the field, I'm still trying to improve. I'm never the kind of person who lets up."
Gosewisch appeared in 14 games for the D-backs last season and he believes that experience will take much of the pressure off while he battles for a roster spot.
"You're able to relax a little bit more when you know you can succeed," Gosewisch said. "Obviously you still have to put all your work in and do everything you can to make the team, but having the knowledge that you can hang with these guys is very reassuring."
Although he knows what's at stake this spring, Gosewisch insists he won't concern himself with what his competition does. Instead, he'll only focus on what he can control.
"I don't really try to think about turning anybody's head," Gosewisch said. "Just trying to play my game like I have in the past. The rest will take care of itself."
Tyler Emerick is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.