Arizona Diamondbacks: Lovullo likes the schedule as constructed

Apr 9, 2017; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Arizona Diamondbacks shortstop Chris Owings against the Cleveland Indians at Chase Field. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 9, 2017; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Arizona Diamondbacks shortstop Chris Owings against the Cleveland Indians at Chase Field. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports /

Manager Torey Lovullo of the Arizona Diamondbacks said playing division opponents early is beneficial.

For first-year manager Torey Lovullo of the Arizona Diamondbacks, the schedule facing his team over the opening month of the season could not be more ideal. In an effect to get acclimated to the National League game, the frequency of double-switches and the education of new personnel, the amount of games in April against N. L. West division opponents is not too much.

Over the opening four weeks of the season, the Diamondbacks will have engaged division opponents in 24 of their first 27 games. Save three against the Cleveland Indians the opening weekend of the campaign, the Diamondbacks play only the San Francisco Giants, San Diego Padres, the Los Angeles Dodgers and Colorado Rockies. Nothing the obvious curve in familiarizing with a new division, Lovullo told Venom Strikes before Saturday’s game with the Dodgers in Chase Field he’s happy with the way scheduled is constructed.

"The faster I can learn and identify the elements of teams within out division, the better I can plan. It’s an advantage to me to play these teams early."

In direct correlation, Lovullo stretched out the season. While the baseball campaign is regarded by most as a marathon and long-distance run, Lovullo is not afraid to tell listeners that players, notably A. J. Pollock, Jake Lamb and Paul Goldschmidt will not start, let alone play, in every game. Lovullo explained this reasoning to Venom Strikes.

"No player in will play in every game. It’s impossible. There are the factors of travel, day/night games, ESPN games and player fatigue."

Speaking before Saturday’s game, Lovullo explained during his daily media briefing he has an idea when and where to give Goldschmidt a day off. In the case of his first baseman, Lovullo told Venom Strikes Goldschmidt is so tuned to the dynamics of the game and his approach is so professional, that there are no concerns with the All-Star taking time off. Noting Goldschmidt is, the words of Lovullo, “such as elite player,” the long-term goal is preserve the strength and mental readiness of all players for meaningful games in August and September.

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Relative to composition of the schedule, Dodgers’ skipper Dave Roberts echoed the similar sentiments. While Lovullo preferred to play division opponents and gain a greater familiarity, Roberts told Venom Strikes before Saturday’s game in Chase Field that he feels a comfortable pattern to the scheduling. That includes a top-heavy diet of April games against NL West opponents and key games with division opponents at the end of the season.

"That’s all I know. The schedule has always been division games at the start and at the finish of the schedule. Frankly, I would prefer to finish the season in September with division opponents. With the way the schedule is currently set up, I have no problem."

At look at the September slate reveals key games for those remaining in the division race. The Diamondbacks and Dodgers engage in six games. The Dodgers are in Chase Field for three from Aug. 29-31 and the teams then meet over the Labor Day holiday, Sept. 4-6, in Dodger Stadium.

For the Diamondbacks, they play, except for six games, West Division opponents in all remaining games from Aug. 25 until the end of the 2017 slate. These include three with the Miami Marlins in Chase Field, Sept. 22-24 and they conclude the season with three against the Royals in Kansas City.

In the Dodgers; case, they also engage all NL West opponents from Aug. 29, save seven games, until conclusion of their schedule. Those involve a seven-game road trip involving the Washington Nationals for three and the Philadelphia Phillies for four.

Injury updates

Right-hander Rubby De La Rosa will throw on Monday and relievers Jake Barrett and Steve Hathaway will throw Tuesday. At that point, manager Torey Lovullo told Venom Strikes, both will be evaluated.

Outfielder Gregor Blanco, out since the end of the spring training with a strain oblique muscle, participated in a rookie game at Salt River on Saturday and Lovullo said he played seven innings and took five at-bats. Blanco is not on the Diamondbacks 40-man roster and was signed to a minor-league contract late last month.