Arizona Diamondbacks: Lovullo recognizes his team will score runs
By Mark Brown
Manager Torey Lovullo of the Arizona Diamondbacks wants his team to play fundamentally sound baseball.
By his admission, manager Torey Lovullo of the Arizona Diamondbacks told Venom Strikes that his team would score runs. In discussing his philosophy and vision for the season ahead, Lovullo struck a common refrain that this team will just produce runs.
That said, the burden then speaks directly to the pitching staff. Coming off a season in which the rotation was unstable, starters to demoted to the bullpen and the minors and the rotation swept through a revolving door, the need for continuity is paramount. After the Diamondbacks defeated the Cleveland Indians, 6-3 before 11,397 in the next to last preseason game Thursday night at Chase Field, Lovullo formally announced his rotation. Stability, it is hoped, is built into his decision.
From the start of spring training, Zack Greinke was given the opening day assignment, and then competition began for the remaining four. For the past week, Lovullo told Venom Strikes he would identify starters two through five by the conclusion of the final two spring games.
After Thursday night’s game, Lovullo made the announcement. The rotation, in order, has Zack Greinke starting opening day on Sunday against the San Francisco Giants, and followed by Patrick Corbin, Taijuan Walker, Robbie Ray and Shelby Miller.
Identifying his approach to the game, Lovullo has placed emphasis on offensive production and analytics. In the latter, Lovullo will emphasize an aggressive shift, and that will hold especially true against left-handed hitters. More important, Lovullo told Venom Strikes he wants his team to be prepared for every game.
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"This team will score runs and for the pitches, these guys have something to prove. We want to win the moment. That means being fundamentally sound, and we will never look past the game we are playing."
Starting with an 8-4 defeat to the Colorado Rockies in the first spring game on Feb. 25, the time for experimentation and running players with number 92 at second base is over.
Throughout the spring slate, Lovullo emphasized execution over results and clearly buys into the emerging concepts of identifying “the process” and walking a listener through “a journey.”
To that point, Lovullo told Venom Strikes that the training camp was productive and players are now focused on the task at hand.
"This was a very productive camp. They players worked very hard in grasping new concepts and the concept we presented. The pitches threw the ball through the catcher’s glove and the hitters paid attention to details. We’re all excited for the season to start."
Getting down to final 25-man roster
After Thursday night’s win over Cleveland, the Diamondbacks purchased the contract of reliever J. J. Hoover and placed him on the roster. In 10 appearance in spring games, Hoover had a 0.00 ERA in 10.0 innings.
With Hoover’s placement, there is one bullpen opening and two candidates, right-hander Silvino Bracho and lefty Andrew Chafin, in the mix. Both pitched in Thursday’s game, and Lovullo told Venom Strikes the decision would be difficult.
"Bracho has shown some great stuff and Chafin had some good outings and some okay. When we make our evaluation, we’ll focus on the things Chafin did well."
If Chafin does not make the team, the Diamondbacks will open the season with veteran Jorge De La Rosa as the sole lefty in the bullpen.
Also after Thursday’s game, the Diamondbacks optioned catcher Oscar Hernandez to Double-A Jackson and assigned lefty reliever T. J. McFarland to the minor-league camp.
The Arizona Diamondbacks now have 28 players on camp and must be down to 25 by opening day. That is this Sunday when they engage the San Francisco Giants in Chase Field.
Left-hander Robbie Ray receives the closing assignment for spring games. He will oppose Cleveland right-hander Travis Banwart on Friday night in Chase Field at 6:40 p.m.
Next: Questions for opening day
Righty Shelby Miller will tune up for the season by pitching in a minor-league game Saturday afternoon. With this outing, Miller will be the fifth starter in manager Torey Lovullo’s rotation to the start the season.