Diamondbacks Mold Young Players

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Armed mostly with lofty ambitions, 30 young baseball hopefuls are learning to play the sport the Arizona Diamondbacks way.

Today, the crew of athletes, ages 6 to 12, wrap up five days of participation in the Arizona Diamondback Centers training camp being held on the Rumsey I ball field.

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Arizona Diamondbacks Training Center coach Jim Caruthers gives a pep talk to the young campers, just minutes prior to the start of a July 11 practice session at Rumsey Park.

On hand to tutor the youngsters in the nuances of the game are coaches Jim Caruthers, Armando Telley and Josh Perry.

Training Center business manager Jeff Swanson said the trio was hand-picked by the baseball organization for their knowledge of baseball skills and ability to teach and coach.

Each weekday from 8 to 11 a.m., the coaches have put the campers through a vigorous curriculum, including learning and practicing the fundamental skills of catching, throwing, base running, hitting, defense and pitching.

The curriculum also includes a healthy dose of strategy, sportsmanship and plenty of games and competition to pique the interest of the campers.

"The camp day is highly choreographed to maximize participation and activity time," Swanson said.

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Correct throwing techniques were among the skills learned by campers at the Arizona Diamondbacks Training Center.

Among the young campers was 9-year-old Sam Winter of Scottsdale who said he enjoyed learning offensive skills the most.

"I liked the hitting," he said. "I learned a lot about it."

Although the boy lives in the Valley, he was able to attend the Payson camp because his parents own a summer home in the Rim Country. In addition to learning offensive and defensive skills, the campers also received from coaches an evaluation of their abilities and tips for improving.

Swanson said the Training Centers also distribute instructional DVDs that all campers will be asked to watch after camp, to reemphasize what they learned during the week.

The Arizona Diamondbacks have been hosting the Training Centers in Payson for the past seven seasons. About 200 camps, similar to the one in Payson, are held annually in more than 40 towns around the state.

A fast-pitch softball camp Swanson hoped to host this week in Payson was canceled for lack of participation.

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