Diamondback Review<br>Title Defense Begins Monday

The Arizona Diamondbacks will begin defense of their National League Western Division, Divisional, National League and World Series Championships on Monday at Bank One Ballpark.

The World Series Championship banner will be hoisted prior to the opening game of the regular season against the San Diego Padres.

The team will have its championship ring ceremony on Tuesday prior to the second game of the series with the Padres.

The final game of the three game home stand will be on Wednesday.

The Diamondbacks will then hit the road for a 10-game stretch that includes stops in Milwaukee (April 5, 6 and 7), San Diego (April 8, 9 and 10) and Colorado (April 11, 12, 13 and 14).

The Diamondbacks will be without the services of third baseman Matt Williams, first baseman/utility man Greg Colbrunn and first baseman/outfielder Erubriel Durazo. All three are on the injured list.

The deadly pitching duo of Curt Schilling and Randy Johnson looked to be ready as Spring Training drew to a close. Beyond that, the pitching rotation would appear to be questionable.

Defending the World Series Championship will not be an easy task.

Even winning the National League West again will be a formidable accomplishment, if it can be done.

The San Francisco Giants and Los Angeles Dodgers in particular look stronger than they were last season.

The San Diego Padres and the Colorado Rockies also should be improved squads.

Should the Diamondbacks get into the Divisional Play-off Series, the St. Louis Cardinals, Chicago Cubs and Houston Astros look like formidable opponents from the Central Division.

The Cubs appear to have improved more than most with the addition of Moises Alou from Houston.

The Atlanta Braves, the Philadelphia Phillies and the New York Mets look like the class of the NL East. The Mets have been especially busy in the free agent market and should be much improved.

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