Nick Piecoro has been covering the Arizona Diamondbacks as a beat writer for the Arizona Republic/AZ Central sports for many years now, and he’s amassed a terrific perspective of the both the Diamondbacks locker room and the game of baseball in general.
He is my favorite Dbacks writer by far, so make sure you check out his work and to follow him on twitter @NickPiecoro if you aren’t already doing so.
Q: What is your favorite thing about covering the Arizona Diamondbacks?
Piecoro: I think it’s just that I really enjoy baseball and have for pretty much my entire life. When I was a kid and realized at a pretty young age I wasn’t going to be good enough to play the game professionally, I wanted to do something to be involved in it. One of my teachers encouraged me to write, and I’ve been fortunate to be able to make a career out of it.
Q: What is your advice to anyone that wants to get a job similar to yours?
Piecoro: I think being able to write/communicate clearly and accurately is critical. And I think to be able to do that you have to work hard at it. You have to practice – you have to write and report as much as you can — and you have to read. You have to read everything you can get your hands on. And you have to read it carefully.
Find the good stories and don’t just consume them but pick them apart. Figure out what makes them good. Why were they structured the way they were? How were the quotes used? How many people were quoted? How much research was put into it? You have to understand what goes into good journalism if you’re going to create it yourself.
Q: Which Dbacks team did you enjoy covering the most in your career?
Piecoro: That’s hard to say. I don’t think I have a good answer for you. The playoff teams are always fun to cover because the players tend to be in a good mood, are easier to talk to, are more willing to provide details/backstory, etc., so I suppose that would be an easy answer.
But just thinking back to the many teams that didn’t reach the postseason, there were always great people on the roster, guys who were fun or interesting to interact with. I would say that I’ve been pretty fortunate for the vast majority of my career covering this team to have had rosters filled with good people.
Q: What’s the craziest thing that’s happened to you on the job? (at the park, hotel, traveling, etc.)
Piecoro: Well, like I said, I’ve been pretty fortunate not to have covered too many bad seeds over the years, but I’ve had a couple of people unload on me before over the phone. Both were front-office people who were upset with something I wrote — and both just screamed at me for several minutes.
I’ve also had some minor run-ins with players, but nothing too dramatic. I’ve been fortunate not to have been involved in any real disasters or anything during road trips. I was in D.C. in 2011 when there was an earthquake. That was unexpected. I had to run downstairs at my hotel in Cincinnati one year during a tornado warning.
Q: What do you think needs to get done this offseason to get this team back to the playoffs? Any free agents or trade targets that stand out?
Piecoro: I think they could stand to improve in the outfield, and probably will try to find a new second baseman, someone a little more well-rounded than Wilmer Flores, who struggled defensively.
They also need to find bullpen help, which seems to be the case every year. Whether they can get back to the postseason, though, probably depends more on health/performance of guys already on the roster. If Luke Weaver, Taijuan Walker and Zac Gallen can all stay healthy and pitch up to their potential, maybe that’s enough to keep them in contention.
Q: Who is a prospect you’re keeping an eye on that you think could make an impact in the near future?
Piecoro: There are several, but probably the best prospect to mention, given that he is both highly talented and close to the majors, is Daulton Varsho.
He is interesting not just because he can hit but because he can impact the game in a variety of ways. He is a catcher, but he also has experience in the outfield. He is a good hitter who doesn’t strike out, but he is also fast and a good baserunner. He has a chance to be a unique player, not just among current major leaguers but among guys in the history of the game. It’s just hard to think of many guys with his skillset, especially if the club is going to allow him to shuffle between positions throughout the season or even within a game. I’m not saying this is a perfect comp because this guy is a Hall of Famer, but it’s kind of similar to what Craig Biggio was in his career.
Read Nick’s piece on Varsho here: Dalton Varsho’s versatility
Here’s another great read by Nick on some of the Dbacks top hitting prospects and their approach: Diamondbacks’ Hitting Prospects
Make sure you give his work a look, it’s always worth a read as I’m sure most Diamondbacks fans know by now. Also, big thank you to Nick for taking the time to do this and I wish him the best.
Winter is coming, Dbacks fans. I will have some more great Dbacks content up as Winter Meetings approach.