Cronkite Header

Cronkite News has moved to a new home at Use this site to search archives from 2011 to May 2015. You can search the new site for current stories.

Young D-Backs Blair, Shipley soaking in first spring training experience

Email this story
Print this story

SCOTTSDALE – Aaron Blair has drawn inspiration from his older brother Garrett since he was a child.

And even though Garrett didn’t get the chance the younger Blair has this spring, Aaron can credit his brother for where he is now – in his first big league camp with the Arizona Diamondbacks.

“He was always a hard worker,” Blair said. “He loved playing the game. I love playing the game. It’s easy to do things that your family is doing. It gets you more involved in it.”

Michael Shipley has been involved in his son Braden’s baseball career since day one. Braden started playing because of his father, who coached him early on.

Now Braden Shipley, along with Aaron Blair, is among 23 non-roster players the Diamondbacks invited to spring training. They are also two of 34 pitchers in camp.

This is the first spring training with a Major League Baseball team for both. Blair is no stranger to Phoenix; he visited often as a kid from Las Vegas. The team’s professionalism has impressed Shipley.

“They treat you with respect,” Shipley said. “It’s been fun to be around some older guys who have played in the big leagues and have been there.”

As a young prospect, Shipley doesn’t have huge expectations of making the roster. He knows he needs to focus on his off-speed pitch as well as his fastball, which Shipley said the Diamondbacks have emphasized.

“I don’t expect myself to get there because I’ll feel like I’m asking too much of myself,” Shipley said. “I have one (expectation) for myself and that’s to prepare the best I can to get ready for the season where ever I might end up.”

Blair said he needs to go out on the field and be himself.

“I’m here to compete for a job first of all,” Blair said. “Whether I make it now or sometime down the road I’m here to work and I’m here to learn.”

The two have shared the same path to Salt River Fields. The Diamondbacks selected both early in the 2013 MLB draft. And since joining the minor leagues that year, Shipley and Blair have played on the same four teams.

Their favorite in the D-Backs chain: Hillsboro, Oregon. Each started eight games for the Hops.

“It was a rookie team but it was close to my hometown,” said Shipley, who hails from Medford. “The fans are great. They pack every game. The other places were a little different, smaller and kind of run down a little bit so definitely Hillsboro.”

Once every home stand Blair enjoyed the team’s visit to the Nike Company Store where they shopped for discounted gear.

Outside of baseball, Shipley is an avid outdoorsman and fisherman. He is out in the woods or fishing on a lake every offseason.

“I got to go to Key West this year with my dad and brother which has been a dream trip for us,” Shipley said. “So that was a blessing.”

The Diamondbacks open the season with 25 players on the roster. Non-roster invitees may be long shots to make the team but spring training is a step in that direction.

If Shipley musters the demeanor and repertoire of Randy Johnson, one of his idols and a former Diamondback player, and if Blair attacks hitters the way Hall of Famer Greg Maddux did, they will be on their way to the big house at Chase Field.