Arizona Diamondbacks – can Lovullo reverse a disturbing trend?
Torey Lovullo was named the eighth manager in the history of the Arizona Diamondbacks
When the Arizona Diamondbacks introduced Torey Lovullo as the eighth manager in franchise history Monday morning, he said all the right things and in all the right ways.
Still, the task ahead is daunting.
When smiles fade and microphones fall silent, Lovullo is left with trying to address a trend which all too unsettling. The mark of a losing team hangs above Chase Field like stale cigar smoke. Whether Lovullo as the third Arizona manager in the past four years is an issue, that does not seem to bother general manager Mile Hazen and his new regime. What should be of immediate attention is how Lovullo plans to shake the demons and cobwebs of the recent past.
Creating an era of good feeling is expected when a new general manager, coach or manager meets the media for the first time. After a second interview this past Wednesday convinced Hazen and other club officials that Lovullo was the right candidate to take command of field operations, the task now commences to help lift the Diamondbacks in the National League West division.
With his first, full-time managerial position at the major league level, Lovullo arrives in the desert with a reputation as a strong communicator. Under previous manager Chip Hale, communication appeared limited. That was especially true with the starting rotation. During parts of the season, both Patrick Corbin and Archie Bradley each felt they had more in their tank during a given game, but Hale invariably walked to the mound with his hook. Each then expressed disappointment with Hale’s decision and guidance.
“The key for success is communication,” Lovullo said at the Monday news conference. “The goal is play hard, day-to-day. We will not look beyond the moment.”
Lovullo, at 51-years-old and a native of Santa Monica, Calif., wants his team is be, “smart, tough and fearless,” adding, “fundamentals will drive this team.”
Admitting “I’m an offensive guy,” Lovullo would not commit to a style of play. For that to happen, Lovullo said he will wait for Hazen to construct the 2017 roster, and then move forward. At the same time, there was no commitment to personnel during the news conference, and Lovullo did not identify one player by name during his initial 30-minute session with the media.
“We have special players here and ready to move forward,” he said. “I’m not focusing on the 2016 season (record of 69-93) and not blinded by the past. Every year, teams have expectations and winning teams manage their expectations.”
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If the Hazen-Lovullo regime is ready to leave their fingerprints all over major league baseball, this journey begins with a fractured bullpen, an unsettling rotation and a changing batting order left from Hale. That was noted for its instability and lack of cohesion.
In giving Lovullo a three-year contract, Hazen eluded the question of immediate results. While professional sports exist in “a success-now” environment, Hazen was reminded that Lovullo is the third Arizona manager in the past four years. Asked if he was ready to lock and chain this revolving door, Hazen smiled, “I didn’t know there was one here.”
“We can’t dwell about the past,” Hazen said. “I have full confidence in Torey and in his success.”
For now, Lovullo says he plans to reach out to each player and act as a sounding board.
“I want to know what each player is thinking and what matters to each player,” he said. “That’s important to me, and that matters to me.”
Though the Diamondbacks job is his first job as a manager in the majors, Lovullo did manage the Red Sox to a 28-20 record at the end of the 2015 Here, he filled in for manager John Farrell, who left the team and underwent treatment for lymphoma.
In all, Lovullo managed nine years in the minors and compiled a .520 (661-609) winning percentage in the Boston and Cleveland organizations. His teams qualified for the post-season four times, and he won two league titles.
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As an infielder, Lovullo played in parts of eight seasons with the Tigers, Yankees, Angels, A’s, Indians and Phillies. In 303 games, Lovullo hit .224 (165-for-737) with 35 doubles, 15 home runs and 60 RBIs.