Diamondbacks manager Torey Lovullo spoke to the media today via Zoom session. What follows is a chronological recap of the topics covered. You can listen to the audio and skip forward or back to hear his full comments according to your interest level.
Q: Of the 2020 rules, (DH, Extra Innings, 7 Inning Double Headers, Expanded Post Season, 3 Batter minimum, which did he be in favor of going forward and which would he dump?
TL: Things became “normal” and they adjusted to all of them. The one he liked the least was the 7 inning double headers. The games are too short and the last two innings of a game are the most intense. He felt Extra Inning rule was intriguing and exciting, he’s in favor of the quick runs and rapid endings, so you don’t blow up your entire team for next game or next series. He thought he wouldn’t like not being able to use left handed specialists for one batter at a time, but different strategic components of the three batter minimum created more thoughts and challenges that he enjoyed.
Q: Have you heard if Spring Training will start on time February 16th:
TL: He doesn’t have any more information than we in the media. He’s not been told about the official start date. They became used to the protocols, and feels that 2021 season can be played in full. He’s very proud of how everyone made it work in 2020.
Q: Will Vaccines be Collectively Bargained with PA?
TL: He just feels like front line workers need to get vaccinated first and just thankful for that.
Q: As you reflect on 2020 how much of that season do you take to 2021, or was it just a weird year.
TL: He felt bitter at first watching the post season. It was a tough pill to swallow for him and the entire organization.
“We didn’t hit the ground running, we didn’t have a great start, we had a 20 game stretch where we didn’t play good baseball and that cost us. I feel like if we had more time we were starting to play better baseball we would have ran some people down. But we knew the ground rules coming in but we didn’t get it done.“
He and the coaches stepped away from one another for a while and are slowly coming back together and having conversations on how they can become a better offensive team.
Q: What were the thoughts with regards to bringing the coaching staff back, and why he felt they would have run down some teams had the season gone on longer:
TL: He didn’t want to make excuses but said it was awkward without fans in the stands and took them a while to get used to. That slowly went away. With the younger players that stepped in after the trade deadline it gave him a lot of hope for the future.
He felt the coaching staff, despite some very big challenges, “coached their buts off”. They never shut down. They were grinding every day trying to figure out how to get better. They taught with energy and passion. It was a turbulent season, but he feels they will excel in 2021
Q: Approach was identified as an issue in 2020. With bringing back the same hitters and same coaches are there any changes in how they will work with hitters to fix that problem?
TL: That’s what they are going over now. Reviewing mental focus, giving them information about their year that they had individually.
“We got game planned last year. It’s no longer the pitcher and the catcher and the pitching coach going over a game plan 35 minutes before a start. It’s an army of people that are game planning against the Arizona Diamondbacks. We do it obviously for our pitching staff. We’ve got to understand how we’re getting worked. We’ve got to step back, we’ve got to be able to make adjustments, and those are the types of things that we’re talking about right now.”
Q: Regarding the Blake Snell/Kevin Cash situation in the world series: How do you balance what you are seeing in game with the information you’ve gone over before the game:
TL: He relies on his gut instincts, what he’s seeing, and the information from his coaching staff, as well as the pre-game information. He believes Kevin Cash had a very good reason for the decision he made.
Q: What position will Ketel Marte play and has he talked Madison Bumgarner
TL: They haven’t fully constructed the roster yet, and won’t zone in until roster is mostly set. Ketel is dynamic enough to play three positions on the diamond, but he just doesn’t know yet where he’ll play. Ketel says he doesn’t care. However Torey felt it might be a combination again of CF/2b
MB has been challenged with a very targeted and specific off season with work habits and training.
Q: Is it going to be a question every offseason where Ketel will play? Will there ever be a year where we know exactly where Ketel is going to play
TL: He didn’t have a specific answer but spoke again about his versatility and being the type of player to help them maximize the roster.
Q: What did you learn as the season went on with regards to playing in a “non bubble” situation and what advice would you give other leagues?
TL: If you followed the protocols, especially when away from ballpark, then things could work out.
Q: Do you have any strong feelings on altering the shift rules
TL: Baseball is on cutting edge to make quality adjustments. He’ll follow whatever MLB decides. (I got the sense from his comments that something may be coming on this)
Q: What did you see from the Padres this past year and what to you expect going forward?
TL: He praised their player development group and the great young players they’ve had come up, and how they’ve blended that with free agent acquisitions.
Q: The players discussed how hard was it to navigate the season without the camaraderie of being to go out and socialize. How do you address and fix that issue going forward:
TL: Their team is a tight team that gets along, so being asked to separate, not have dinners together, talk shop after a game in somebody’s room, etc, takes it’s toll. He believes in team chemistry, it’s a very real thing. He’s not sure yet how to combat that. He’ll have to see what the new rules and protocols are for 2021.
Q: What are your favorite holiday traditions:
TL: Putting up his Christmas lights and being creative with that and watching kids opening presents Christmas morning. Sounds like he went Clark Griswald this year.
Q: What are his thoughts on Cleveland changing their name.
TL: These are current times, and they are positive movements.
Q: How does he feel about Jared Porter getting shot to run the Mets
TL: He’s known JP for 10 years, he’s one of his best friends in baseball. He’s ready for this. He’s always had easy, open , honest communication with JP. He’s a good listener.