New manager Torey Lovullo sees ‘special talent’ on Arizona Diamondbacks
PHOENIX – In only five weeks’ time, Torey Lovullo has gone from a 93-win team to a 93-loss team. The move, though, was his decision and one that he’s waited for more than half his life.
On Monday, with his family in attendance, Lovullo was formally introduced as the Arizona Diamondbacks’ new manager, the team’s third in four years and eighth overall.
During his 25-minute press conference, Lovullo cast an optimistic tone on a franchise that just suffered through its second 90-loss season in three years and has only been to the playoffs once since 2008.
“There’s a lot of special talent, a lot of really key ingredients here to help us move forward. It’s a special group of guys,” he said.
Lovullo didn’t name names. However, he did name the qualities he wants in a baseball player: smart, tough and fearless.
“We have those guys here. We have a number of those guys here. There’s a great nucleus of players here,” he said. “The way I look at it, it might be aiming a little high, I feel like things are looking very positive to start.”
General manager Mike Hazen pointed to Lovullo’s “ability to connect with people, his communication style and his role as a teacher” gained through his experience on both the minor and major league levels for why he was “the absolute right choice” to lead the D-backs.
The link between Hazen and Lovullo goes back to their time together in Cleveland. Their relationship further grew in Boston, where Hazen was the assistant GM and Lovullo the bench coach.
For the past four seasons, Lovullo, 51, served under John Farrell, including a stint as interim manager in 2015 while Farrell was on medical leave.
“The manager has to wear a lot of different hats,” said Lovullo, who led the Red Sox to a 28-20 record. “The manager has to be tied into the front office to the ownership group to player development. All those hats can be worn at one time. It just takes a little bit of time to manage what you do on a day-to-day basis.”
Lovullo personally thanked Farrell plus singled out the late Sparky Anderson and current Indians manager Terry Francona for their mentorship.
“I am here in a small way because of them,” he said.
It’s been a 30-year journey for Lovullo.
A two-time Pac-10 Player of the Year at UCLA, Lovullo played parts of eight big league seasons with six different teams. Upon his retirement in 2000, he began his coaching career in the Indians’ organization. Nine seasons as a minor league manager followed before landing in Toronto in 2011 as first base coach.
During his time in Boston, Lovullo helped guide the Red Sox to a World Series championship in 2013 and a pair of division titles.
While most of his post-playing career has been spent in the American League, Lovullo is well-versed in the National League game.
“What I need to do first and foremost is not forecast exactly what our team is going to be like. Once I get a feel for our guys and the personnel, we will determine what type of team we’re going to be. But I do like an offensive team. I’m not going to lie. And I know that this team, based on the numbers, they’re at or above league average in just about every offensive category so that’s when I say that we have a great starting point offensively. But, there will be a point in time when we will have to play for a run,” he said.
“We will be a fundamentally sound team. We will be a prepared team each and every night for whatever we need to do to help us win baseball games.”
Staff decisions will come later, according to Lovullo.
For right now, Lovullo is more focused on getting to know the D-backs roster.
“Certainly, I want to aim as high as possible. I am very optimistic that we have the capabilities of doing something very special,” he said. “As I told one player on the phone, I want to be able to have us all tell a great story at the end of the 2017 season.”
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