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2019 Arizona Diamondbacks Reviews : # 6, Torey Lovullo

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“We are brothers.”

Torey Lovullo is proud of Escobar who hit a homer.
Torey Lovullo is proud of Escobar who hit a homer.
Photo by Jennifer Stewart/Getty Images

Rating: 7.82

Age: 54

2019 stats: 85 wins-77 losses, “That’s a good year, all things considered….”

2019 salary: Neighborhood of $1 Million ($900,000 for 2018 season, Source: USA Today).

2020 status: contract extended through the 2021 season.


Introduction: Who is Torey Lovullo?

He was asked, “Who is Torey Lovullo?” His reply had two parts:

  • “Proud son of Sam and Grace Lovullo.”
  • “A believer in morals and values [who] tries to preach that every single day.”

Who-he-is flows into what-he-accomplishes as manager of the D-backs. “Building relationships is a big part of managing today. There has to be some humor. You have to listen. Players need to know why decisions are made. It’s not complicated.” — Torey Lovullo

As Ken Rosenthal wrote, successful managers are “…completely secure in who they are...” That phrase aptly describes Torey Lovullo as he builds team culture.

He established a culture of, “We are brothers.” “I took a big chance when I started to use the word love in sports. People would look at you sideways. I didn’t care. I really believed in my heart that if I loved my team, and loved my coaches and everyone around me, we would become a family…and rely on one another.” —Torey Lovullo

Torey Lovullo’s coaching philosophy is similar to legendary basketball coach John Wooden. Reference to Wooden is apropos because Lovullo loves playing pick-up basketball. One way to look at Wooden’s coaching philosophy is a pyramid of 15 athlete-development-centered characteristics.

  • The pyramid’s bottom tier is build quality relationships between coaches and athletes.
  • The next tier is hard work, be curious, find and invent ways around obstacles, and seek continuous improvement.

Torey Lovullo builds relationships of caring and trust. He asks his players about their life and family. What he learns goes beyond knowing how to put players in the best situations to succeed.

  • “I think they start to realize, very quickly, that I care.” That builds trust with his players.
  • “I make eye contact [and]...I say hello to everybody and have basic conversations with everybody every day.” That builds his connections.
  • “I am genuinely interested. I really enjoy listening to people, getting to learn about people, getting to know their signals, their heart, their mind. Because that’s who I am at my core.” That core demonstrates his authenticity.
  • Building trust and demonstrating authenticity increases effectiveness when Torey Lovullo adapts to the demands of challenging situations, which happen continuously in baseball.

I let them know my expectations. There are no barriers, I am totally transparent. They know what I am thinking. They know what I want them to get to. Once they are there it becomes very special.” —Torey Lovullo

“My job sometimes is to kick somebody in the rear and tell them to get moving in the right direction and I’ve got to figure out how to do that because you can’t use the same strategy with every player. And then there’s other times where I have to push them along and have a patient conversation.“ — Torey Lovullo

We talk about winning the margins. Taking care of the little things and adding them up into one or two big moments in a game.” When that happens, “I see the smile directly related to their success.” He pulls them aside and says, “I am so proud of you.” He is seen as, “A dad to 25 guys every day.” — Torey Lovullo

Perseverance in professional sports is a huge concept. So when you can get through those moments to a shining light at the other end and you can tell a good story, I really enjoy those players.” — Torey Lovullo

His players persevere despite circumstances. “As long as they’re giving an effort and have an I-care attitude, I’m going to dust them off, posture them, push them out there and believe in them.” — Torey Lovullo

Players respect and own Torey Lovullo’s leadership, so improvements are implemented. “I rely on a veteran and leadership committee. I ask them where we are at and what do we need to do? … I bring them into my office. We talk over the situation. What is good and what is bad? And they tighten it up from there. “ — Torey Lovullo

In the dugout, out of the dugout, in the clubhouse, out of the clubhouse, every player that plays for him believes in him and loves him.” — Derrick Hall

2019 Season: It wasn’t enough.

“It [85 wins] wasn’t enough [to make the playoffs].” — Torey Lovullo

“But I’m jealous. I’m pissed; I’m jealous and angry that we’re not going to be able to put on one of those hoodie pullovers that has the special season saying for each team. And I’m going to be watching the [playoffs] with a lot of envy but I know what we got to do to get there, ...” — Torey Lovullo, Sept 29 pregame interview

“That’s a good year, all things considered - the changeover, the uncertainty, the unknown, creating a new culture, add-in culture. However, I don’t want to stand pat. I don’t want anyone to think that me, Mike Hazen, or the Diamondbacks, will sit tight and be satisfied with 85 wins. We want to go somewhere special.” — Torey Lovullo, Oct 1 Burns and Gambo interview

2020 Season: Spring training sets a tone.

“…We want our guys to be aligned with our expectations. We want to do special things and they know that.” — Torey Lovullo

“…Make sure nobody is compliant. They come in here ready to earn a spot.” — Torey Lovullo

“…We want everybody to be ready. I want everybody to have an intense spring, because that’s where the focus is going, we are going toward spring training, [to] set a tone for what we want to do – tell a great story at the end of the year. We know what that ending means.” — Torey Lovullo

2020 Season: We won’t stop until we get there.

“I don’t want us to lose focus ... It’s a huge, huge point of emphasis for me that we don’t worry about anything other than what takes place at 7 p.m. every single night.” — Torey Lovullo

“Winning the game is the first priority. But giving guys opportunities and believing in them is a strategy that I wholeheartedly believe in.” — Torey Lovullo

“So when they respond to some of the things I’m asking for, when they go hard every single day, those are the things I focus on, those are the things that I’m going to continue to build on. I want our guys to know we have a lot of work to do. 500 is not where we want to be within our Division. I expect good things from our guys next year.” — Torey Lovullo

“…I look up there where there is one banner; I want to hang more than one. I want to hang 4 or 5. That’s our goal every single day. That’s what gets me out of bed. That’s what motivates me. And I want to be part of the culture that we have here, and we’re not going to stop until we get there.” — Torey Lovullo

An Artistic View of Torey Lovullo

Five of Torey Lovullo’s traits (authenticity, D-backs manager, enjoying pickup basketball, establishing a culture of “We are all brothers,” and achieving daily progress toward something special) are represented by the following watercolor & multimedia art work created by Makakilo.

An Artistic View of Torey Lovullo
An Artistic View of Torey Lovullo
Makakilo