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Rich Rodriguez and Todd Graham throw out Diamondbacks first pitch

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(Carlos Osorio/AP)

Looks like the rivalry between Arizona and Arizona State will start early this year as new head coaches Rich Rodriguez and Todd Graham will  throw out dueling pitches for the Arizona Diamondbacks season opener Friday afternoon.

That means both coaches will be trying to throw a strike and my money is on one of them throwing their back out in the effort.

Rodriguez, who hasn't played much baseball since being a high school infielder more than 30 years ago, said if the Diamondbacks had really embraced the Duel in the Desert rivalry, they would have come up with a different concept.

"It would probably be more exciting if he was batting and I was pitching," Rodriguez told the Tucson Citizen. "Or the other way around."

So how did Rodriguez get invited to throw out the first pitch in Graham's city?

Well, Diamondbacks managing general partner Ken Kendrick is a West Virginia alum and a good friend. Rodriguez was the head coach for the Mountaineers from 2001-07. Rodriguez said the two became such good friends that he would come out to Phoenix to visit him every May.

Unfortunately, the whole rivalry factor will probably be for show.

Rodriguez and Graham worked together at West Virginia in 2001 and 2002 and have maintained a good relationship since.

"We haven't talked since he got the (ASU) job. We would keep in touch before then, but we will probably keep in touch a whole lot less now just because it's our rivalry and we play each other.

"We'll be friendly, but we just won't talk about football and what each other is doing, because that is the competitive side of both of us."

Hopefully, we'll see that competitive side Friday afternoon.

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