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Squad will stay home early, travel a lot later

PHOENIX – The Arizona Diamondbacks proved in 2008 that you can’t win a division title in April.

They got off to a 20-8 start the first month, but they eventually were overtaken by the Los Angeles Dodgers and missed the postseason.

This year, Arizona opens with 18 of its first 21 games at home, one of the quirkier schedules in baseball.

A similar start like last season’s isn’t necessary, but a horrible April with so many home games could make things difficult for the rest of the year, and manager Bob Melvin knows it.

“That’s negative thinking,” Melvin said. “We’re trying to have a bit of a shorter focus. We do know the schedule. We do know we have a lot of home games in April. But we played well at home last year, too, and that’s something we’re encouraged about.”

Left fielder Conor Jackson said the abundance of early home games is both a positive and a negative.

“The pluses are we’re home and playing in front of our home crowd, so you have a chance to come out hot in front of your own fans,” he said. “The minuses are, we’ll be stacked up with away games for a couple of months and we’ll be asked to do some crazy traveling later on.

“But what we have to remember is the pennant isn’t won in April. You can’t lose it in April, either. That doesn’t happen until September, maybe August, so I don’t think we’re going to base our season around April.”

Short hops

• Right-handers Max Scherzer (shoulder) and Tom Gordon (elbow) were placed on the disabled list, as expected.

• Gordon took another step forward in his rehab, throwing 60 pitches in a bullpen session Sunday. “He wanted to know if he could throw three innings,” Melvin said. Gordon will throw at least one more bullpen session, Melvin said, before facing hitters.

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