Arizona Diamondbacks: Lovullo sees similarities to championships teams
By Mark Brown
According to Torey Lovullo, the Arizona Diamondbacks exhibit the same winning traits displayed by the winning Boston Red Sox.
During the impressive run generated by the Arizona Diamondbacks this season, a few buzz words continue to circulate through the clubhouse. Terms like “respect,” “trust” and “character” resonate with both players and manager Torey Lovullo.
For these kinds of variables to surface, it’s not difficult to follow the blood liens.
Lovullo was hired from a bench coach position for the Boston Red Sox and a franchise noted for recent success. Previously, Lovullo was under the wing of Cleveland manager Terry Francona, still an example of success in the game.
When Lovullo as hired last October to manage the Diamondbacks, he made clear at the press conference announcing the hiring that “what matters to the players, matters to me.” Players took that description to heart and began, with Lovullo’s direction, to transform the culture of the Arizona clubhouse.
From a staid, reserved and taciturn environment under previous manager Chip Hale, the current Diamondbacks clubhouse is a lively mixture of humor, friendship, commitment and purpose. When instilling these elements of winning, Lovullo was able to manage experiences of the past into a winning combination in the desert.
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Before Wednesday’s game with the St Louis Cardinals in Chase Field, Lovullo told Venom Strikes that his time in Boston set the benchmark for success and easy to inculcate characteristics conducive to winning.
"“The 2013 Red Sox were a similar team to this one,” he said. “That team did not have the most talent, but roamed together as a pack. That’s what I see in this team, and this is a special group of players. They sense what they have here.”"
Lovullo’s association with the 2013 Red Sox began when John Farrell was named manager at that start of that season. After Boston finished with a 69-93 record for the 2012 under Bobby Valentine, the Sox sent Valentine packing and brought in Farrell. As Farrell’s first base coach in Toronto (2011 and 2012), Lovullo was hired as the bench coach. Present at the creation of the Sox’ World Series title championship in 2013, Lovullo told Venom Strikes many of the variables and characteristics which guided the Red Sox to the top of that baseball world are present within the confines of the Chase Field clubhouse.
Speaking about the 2017 Diamondbacks, Lovullo pointed out this team has heart and vengeance.
"“They play on edge,” he said. “Communication in the dugout sets the tone. They are never out of any game. There is a belief they can score runs in a hurry and turn the direction of any game.”"
In the clubhouse
Infielder Ketel Marte arrived prior to Wednesday’s game. With Nick Ahmed out for about two months with a fractured right hand, Marte will fill both middle infield positions at shortstop and second base. At the same time, the native of Nizao, in the Dominican Republic, can fill in at the center field position. Lovullo explained to Venom Strikes the value Marte brings to the club.
“When he was sent down (at the end spring training), we ask that he grow and learn,” Lovullo said. “That happened, and Marte is another example of the depth we have in this organization.
Going forward, Ahmed is expected to be in a cast for about six weeks and then two weeks of rehabilitation. If all goes well, he could return by Labor Day.
On the diamond
On Wednesday night, the Diamondbacks had their four-game winning streak snapped, and dropped a 4-3 decision to the visiting St. Louis Cardinals before 23,188 in Chase Field.
Nearly lost in the rare defeat to home was the ejection of catcher Jeff Mathis, the first of his major-league career, and Lovullo, his second. Previously, Lovullo was tossed as a coach with the Boston Red Sox, in a game against the Tampa Rays on May 30, 2014. Plate umpire D.J. Rayburn ejected Mathis after the catcher questioned a called third strike to end the bottom of the fourth inning
Afterward, Lovullo told Venom Strikes he is not apologetic for his ejection.
"“I was just voicing my displeasure with a couple of calls,” he said. “I would say that D. J. Rayburn did his absolute best to call balls and strikes. Moments like that erupt and situations like that happen. What upset me the most was the fact that (Mathis’) ejection was not justified. It takes a lot to get me there, but when I get here, you see what happens. I’m Italian and I get emotional. I can’t stop that train once it gets going.”"
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The Cardinals series concludes with a Thursday afternoon game. Look for lefty Patrick Corbin (6-7, 4.89 ERA) to take on righty Lance Lynn (5-5, 3.86).
Then, the Colorado Rockies, who have lost eight straight, move into Chase Field for a three-game, weekend series.