Outfielder J. D. Martinez of the Arizona Diamondbacks wants to tap into the energy of his new teammates.
Perhaps it takes an outsider to place the mood and character of the current state of the Arizona Diamondbacks in perspective. Questions directed at players, field manager Torey Lovullo or general manager Mike Hazen can yield certain answers, but a fresh voice can be beneficial.
Enter newly acquired outfielder J. D. Martinez, his take on his new teammates and what he found in the Diamondbacks clubhouse.
Throughout the season, Arizona players speak about Lovullo’s positive culture, the clubhouse as a gathering place and not a venue from which to hide, and a true sense of common purpose. That all may help define the clubhouse environment. After just a few days in Sedona Red, Martinez told Venom Strikes what he discovered among the bats, ball, dreams and hopes was something players did not discuss.
"“There’s a hunger here,” he said. “This team is hungry and want to make their move. I found no cliques, a very tight-knit group, great energy and really good baseball players.”"
Consensus around the clubhouse would essentially agree with Martinez, but unlikely there would be an admission. What is certain is the collective drive. There is no argument that players sense they are on the verge of post-season play, but that’s only for internal discussion.
Lovullo will make sure players keep that discussion out of the reach of the media and his players stay focused and on task.
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Regarding Martinez, Lovullo hoped his powerful, right-handed lumber could be in Saturday’s line-up, and act to protect the left-handed bat of Jake Lamb. When Lovullo arrived at Chase field around 11:15 Saturday morning, he learned Martinez’s left hand remained sore and he unable to play. Whether Martinez will be in the line-up Sunday against the Nationals’ Stephen Strasburg remains uncertain.
At this point, Lovullo only said Martinez’s condition was upgraded. On Friday, there was no zero chance Martinez would get in the game. As the contest unfolded, Martinez was the only position player Lovullo did not use in a 6-5 win over Washington. At the same time, Lovullo did not use catcher Chris Iannetta, and, as in the case with the reserve catcher on the bench, preferred to save Iannetta for emergency purpose.
In Martinez’s only game with Arizona, he was positioned in right field, and David Peralta moved to left. For the two games since his hand injury, Lovullo used Daniel Descalso and Chris Herrmann in left field. While Martinez waits for his hand to heal, he told Venom Strikes that this role to be determined and, at this point, he just wants to jump on the Diamondbacks express.
"“Still trying to figure out what will happen here,” he said. “I just want to come in, be me and show what I can do. Play my game and be the hitter I know can be.”"
A day off
On Saturday against Nats’ starter Tanner Roark, Lovullo gave first baseman Paul Goldschmidt the day off. As the schedule moves into August and the stretch run, Lovullo’s message is rest.
"Arizona Diamondbacks: Approaching and playing on an even keel"
Given the physical and mental dynamics of a pennant race, Lovullo told Venom Strikes before Saturday’s game with the Nationals that “our goal is to play for as long as we can. We need players will be fresh.”
In that regard, Goldschmidt was given time off from the ball park and was not in the clubhouse during batting practice and pre-game meetings. As with those given that day off, Lovullo reiniterated, these players will arrive as by game time. Rest assure, Lovullo promised, “(Goldschmidt) will be available, if needed.”