A lot of cool stuff out of Torey Lovullo’s post-regular season press conference today. Here are some highlights, from our manager and also David Peralta and A.J. Pollock, who offered their thoughts to the media.
- Injury updates: “Everybody is going to be running through a series of tests today. Jimmie Sherfy is going to throw an aggressive bullpen. That will take place after the workout on the field on the main diamond, and we'll get a feel for how that goes and how he feels. David Peralta came in and said he feels very, very good, as did Ketel Marte. Very, very slight discomfort yesterday, and it was more my decision to make sure that, in both situations, that we got them off the field as soon as possible. Rey [Fuentes] is about the same as David and Ketel. We asked them to get after it a little bit, test some things out. We feel very comfortable that they're going to be okay.”
- On J.D. Martinez: “He is as good a hitter on and off the field that I've been around. He obviously can walk up to the plate prepared and execute, which is a very impressive thing, but the thing that people don't see is what he does behind the scenes. There's notes in a notebook. There's video and studying. There's tendencies and habits. There's constant practice and perfection of the swing. I get a chance to sit next to him or stand next to him before he's going in the on-deck circle, and it's the exact same routine. He does it with his eyes open. He does it with his eyes closed. I know there's a lot of muscle memory that he has perfected. So when he walks up to home plate, it's just put things in automatic and let it happen, and it's been very productive.”
- Managing a winner-take-all game: “In baseball, I think that we're all adrenaline junkies. We love those moments. We live for them. We prepare for them. We know how to navigate through them. I enjoy feeling pressure. So I feel like that entire clubhouse feels the exact same way. Emotionally, I think we'll be prepared. Will I change my strategy? Probably not. It's worked all year long here. We made it this far. For me to change and do something totally different, it's really not my style. But I can assure you that, if I do, it will have a strategy, there will be a reason for it.”
- Roster construction: “It's either going to be nine or ten pitchers, and we're still trying to figure out the advantages or disadvantages in that. What I'm planning on doing is walking through some scenarios with the staff and the front office and just having us bounce a lot of different things off of one another to where no situation will catch us by surprise, and that will help us understand where there might be a soft spot and we might have a need for an extra pitcher or maybe have a need for an extra position player.”
Starting catcher: “Jeff Mathis did great for two consecutive days, something we wanted to see as a staff. I know he wanted to get out there and perform. I know the medical team wanted to see that. So he did that Saturday and Sunday. It's about his recovery today. I'll probably have a conversation with him early today or tomorrow to solidify that decision. But we feel like we have two qualified guys with Chris Iannetta and Jeff. They've caught Zach and caught him well. Once again, it will come down to what I feel gives us the best chance to win the game.
I think we want to prioritize the potential for stopping the opposition. In my mind, pitching and defense is what wins you championships, and in this game, it's been my experience that every moment matters. Somebody gets on base, it's like red alert. And you're very tense for nine innings. So you're looking for the best strategy to work through and navigate on the mound. I know the relationship that was formed between Jeff and Zach was very strong, and that's important to me. So that's definitely a pro, but it's not a con for Chris because Chris did a great job getting to know Zach over the past month, month and change, and they developed a relationship. So I've got to dig into that a little bit more. But I'm going to prioritize the ability to get outs..”
- Speaking to the players: “I want these guys to understand that something special is happening here. I think they need to know that they have done something that several other teams haven't. We're not having exit meetings with players. We're preparing for a playoff game, and we deserve to feel good about that. I'll tell them to embrace this. Embrace it, enjoy it, and it's very well deserved. When you go to bed at night, just know that tomorrow is going to bring another day of anticipation, and you can ramp it up and get everything ready for Wednesday. The nervous energy that everybody is feeling, the excitement that we're all feeling right now is extremely normal. This is the greatest time of the year. October baseball, long sleeve baseball is the absolute best, and I want these guys to experience it, embrace it, and remember it. It's a good feeling.”
- Goldschmidt’s tough September: “I'm not concerned about it at all. I don't think he is either. We know that it hasn't been as productive over the past couple weeks because he's such a catalyst for this team and this organization. I know that he's probably working on balance, he's working on staying through the ball, all the common things you want to get to when you're maybe not having the results you want. I approached him a couple of days ago, and what do you think he told me? Exactly what you'd expect. I don't care about hitting .300. I want this team to win. I'll do everything I can possibly do to help this ball club win a game, win today, and I'm looking forward to Wednesday. So that will tell you how hard he's probably working right now to make sure that he's working through this little hiccup that he's having.”
- The 24-game turnaround: “I think it was a complete buy-in to a changing of the culture. Guys are working tirelessly to give us any type of advantage every single day. And it's statistical analysis. It's projection analysis. It's watching video and paying attention. It's getting the TrackMan and watching swing planes. A lot of things that we laid out for these players was so foreign to them. I had some anxiety walking into Spring Training because I felt like some of them could shake their head at us and go, are you crazy? But the players bought in quickly, and it started to translate. There's a very powerful group that's put together up there that cares about the minutia of every detail, and it's translated, and there's been a total buy-in by the whole group.”
- Clubhouse culture: “Establishing a culture of togetherness and family and unity was the most important thing to me. I wasn't afraid to talk about the word love. You know, baseball and sports -- we're very macho people, and we feel that, but we're afraid to talk about it. So you've heard me say the word love. I think that the guys use the word love, and I think that we've developed a really special bond. So that was the first thing that I set out to do through my own actions and my own relationships, and I think that the guys caught on. I'm proud of that, and I'm honored by that. It was a perfect storm of delivering the message to try and change the culture, and then the players went out and executed every single day. They did that on their own. They performed.”
A.J. Pollock and David Peralta
On Torey Lovullo: PERALTA: I think the difference for us is communication, and the way he came to us in the beginning and said, hey, we're just going to play as a team. We're going to be a big family. He's communicated about whatever moves he's going to do and everything. I think we can appreciate that. He brings a lot of energy, good energy, good vibes, and that's good. You can feel it. As a whole team, you can feel it. That's why our club house is more like a family room.
POLLOCK: I would agree with everything David said. He said communication. He's as good as I've ever seen communication-wise. I think, yeah, David's right. He brings the energy. Also, I think he -- baseball is unpredictable. You have all sorts of things that go on. If he tells you something, it's always going to be what's going on. He's never going to tell you something and do something else. He's very confident in what he's doing. I think that's pretty important when you have all sorts of things going on, and this guy is as steady as you get, cool, calm, and collected. Yeah, he's awesome. We're really lucky to have him.
On Martinez: POLLOCK: I've never seen anything like what he's done the last month. Yeah, we kind of keep looking, where would our team be without J.D. right now? Such a great teammate. He's just a great teammate that does a really good job and comes to the ballpark with an idea and hits homers. We'll take homers all day.
PERALTA: That's what it's all about. It's unbelievable the way he prepares himself to play the game in the way he does. It's something that you have to like, I don't know, that he can really do that. It's just him. We're really happy he's on our side and he's here to help us. Unbelievable. I'm glad he's on our side.
On facing Jon Gray. POLLOCK: Yeah, he's a good pitcher. He's got really, really good stuff. I think he's really come on the last couple years, too. He's gotten better and better. He's got an upper 90s fastball with a really good slider. It's tough. It's never going to be an easy at bat against him. I think, when you have a good pitcher like that, you've really got to -- it's a team effort. You've got to make him uncomfortable. You can't do that with one guy. You've got to have the whole team put on good at bats and make good pitches the whole game.
PERALTA: I think it depends how the game is going. You're looking for him to make a mistake. If he makes a mistake, you have to be ready for it. You have to have a good game plan against him. He's a good pitcher, but we have to work as a team. This is the one game we have to like win or lose, and we're not looking to lose. We're looking to win. So we have to work as a team. If we're going to win the Game 1-0, this is all we need, one run. We're just looking for a mistake. We have to be ready and have a good game plan.
Original transcript via ASAP Sports.