SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- A sheepish grin crossed Cody Ross' face when he was asked if Monday was his first time running on the field since last summer's hip surgery.
"Today was the first official day for me to run on the ground," he said.
Ross then admitted that when he's been in the outfield during batting practice he has done some running to track down fly balls.
Ross appears to be ahead of schedule in his rehab from the broken and dislocated right hip he suffered last August, and there is optimism that he will be ready for March 31, when the D-backs open at home against the Giants.
Prior to Monday, the only official running Ross had done was on a treadmill that lifts a certain percentage of a person's body weight and in the pool treadmill the D-backs have in their training room.
Ross was told he could participate in the team's paintball game Monday afternoon, but that he had to limit his movement.
"Last year, I was one of the front-line guys that charged forward," he said. "This year, I will hold back and protect the flag and hopefully be the last man standing."
D-backs hit paintball course in bonding exercise
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- The D-backs had a short day of practice Monday before loading onto a charter bus for a group outing of paintball.
It is just the latest example of some team-building exercises the ballclub is taking part in this spring. Last week, pitchers and catchers hiked nearby Camelback Mountain as a group, and there is a golf outing scheduled next week.
As with the hike up Camelback, the team will get its work in during paintball.
"We'll play for probably three hours at least, and it's a heck of a workout," D-backs manager Kirk Gibson said.
How effective the D-backs are at building a cohesive unit will reveal itself over the course of the long regular season.
"I think what you need to try and create is when things get tough that it stays intact," Gibson said. "This is just the start of many things that we're going to do, exercises to try and build that bond. So when it happens within the season, we'll be better able to stay on our task and not let the results or other things that are outside of us affect us."
D-backs veteran players talked throughout the offseason about how to better stick together during the season and have resolved to make sure that the team stays focused throughout.
It's a theme that the coaching staff has picked up on as well.
"One of the things we talked about is to think more like a tribe, where the bigger the adversary, the more formidable the tribe," Gibson said. "We'll know how we want to accomplish things, and we just have to stay within ourselves and continue to believe that we can do that. If you work together and you stay together, if you see a guy kind of drifting out there, then we have to pull him back in."
With busy week ahead, D-backs taking Friday off
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- With an extra-long Spring Training thanks to their early opening series against the Dodgers in Sydney, Australia, the D-backs' coaching staff has looked for ways to break up the monotony of the spring.
After having a short day of work Monday so that they could play paintball, the D-backs will go at it hard Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.
"The next three days we'll get a little more intense," manager Kirk Gibson said. "When they come out of Thursday, they'll probably be pretty tired."
With that in mind, the D-backs will get a full day off Friday before gearing back up over the weekend in preparation for next Wednesday's first Cactus League game.
Steve Gilbert is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Inside the D-backs, and follow him on Twitter @SteveGilbertMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.