After a slow start, registration for the Payson version of the Arizona Diamondback Training Center is picking up.
Just a few weeks ago, Diamondback Training Center official Jeff Rodin said he couldn't figure out why participation in the youth baseball camp appeared to be suffering.
Last year, the inaugural camp drew 50-plus youngsters, but only about 20 had signed up for this summer's sessions July 9 to 13 at Payson High School.
Monday, Training Center official Curt Pollex said sign-ups had increased in the past few days and he was expecting another good turn-out.
Potential campers can preregister by calling Rodin or Pollex at (800) 821-7152.
Also, registration will be accepted onsite 7:30 a.m. to 8 a.m. the opening day of the camp.
On that day, the $150 registration fee must be paid by check. No cash will be accepted, Pollex said.
When preregistering by phone, a major credit card is needed.
The registration fee includes a Diamondbacks Training Centers T-shirt, cap, bat bag and two tickets to a Diamondbacks home game.
Proceeds from the Training Centers benefit the Arizona Diamondbacks Charities Youth Baseball Fun.
In addition to the Payson training center, other sessions are held throughout the summer at various sites around Arizona.
Slide into training
Last summer, the highly successful camp featured one morning session from 8 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. That format returns intact along with a first-ever afternoon session from 1 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.
The afternoon session is open to players 11 years and older who have advanced skill levels. Afternoon campers should have previously attended an ADTC camp and be playing in youth leagues.
The morning sessions are designed for youths of all skill levels from 7 to 14 years of age.
The afternoon session was added because of the success of last year's Rim country training center, Rodin said.
Most who attended last summer's training center were Rim country residents. But the camp also drew several Valley youngsters who commute daily with their parents.
The curriculum of both the morning and afternoon sessions is endorsed by the Diamondback's baseball staff and is matched to the age and skill level of the students.
On the first day of training camp, the participants will be grouped for instruction and assigned a coach. Throughout the five-day camp, instructors teach the fundamentals of hitting, fielding, throwing and base running. Special position play and game strategy is also taught.
Instructors make special efforts to keep the camp activities fun and enjoyable as well as meaningful.
The coaching staff which last year included Payson High School baseball coach Teddy Pettet is hand-picked by the Diamondback organization, Rodin said. Due to other committments, Pettet said he will not be available to coach at this year's camp.
Former Arizona State University and pro baseball player Ricky Nelson also coached at the camp last year. Nelson is now coaching in the Oakland A's farm system and won't return to Payson.
At press time, Pollex and Rodin were putting together the staff of instructors to head the Payson camp.