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D-backs’ Lovullo on Fernando Rodney’s struggles: ‘We’re not going to jump off bridges’

Arizona Diamondbacks' Fernando Rodney (56) pauses near the mound after giving up a three-run home run San Diego Padres' Ryan Schimpf, rear, during the ninth inning of a baseball game Wednesday, April 26, 2017, in Phoenix. The Padres defeated the Diamondbacks 8-5. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

LISTEN: Torey Lovullo, D-backs' manager

Early evidence shows that first-year Diamondbacks manager Torey Lovullo’s philosophy is about empowering his players.

It’s worked for his starting pitchers, all of whom have rebounded so far this season after a rough go in 2016.

Now, Lovullo faces his first big test as manager: hoping that empowerment of struggling closer Fernando Rodney can be rewarded with an about-face after the veteran’s two blown saves in his two appearances before he pitched a full, clean inning Tuesday to cap the D-backs’ 6-3 win over Washington.

Lovullo said before the game that the team will follow a process regarding whether Rodney remains the closer.

There’s a good bet that process will remain in-house as the manager publically expresses support for Rodney.

“(Fans) want to know if I’m ready to make a change at the drop of the hat,” Lovullo told Burns and Gambo on 98.7 FM, Arizona’s Sports Station. “We’re going to follow that process. We’re not going to jump off bridges just because of a situation that popped up over the past week.”

Rodney recorded six saves in his first nine appearances of the season. But last Wednesday, he entered with a 5-3 D-backs lead in the ninth inning against the San Diego Padres and allowed five runs and six hits in 0.2 innings before being pulled in the 8-5 Arizona loss.

Three days later, against the Colorado Rockies, Rodney entered to begin the ninth only to allow three runs off two hits and two walks in a full frame. The Rockies took the win, 7-6.

Rodney struck out one and didn’t allow a hit Tuesday in the win at Washington.

As it stands, Rodney, who signed a one-year deal in the offseason, has an 11.45 ERA (14 earned runs in 11 innings pitched) on the year.

Just as Lovullo did following the Saturday loss, the manager reiterated Tuesday that Rodney remains his closer.

“Until that happens, until we pull him in and decide we need to switch gears, we’re going to back him 100 percent,” Lovullo said of Rodney. “This (decision) obviously is very public and very, very much out there right now. It is something that is sitting right in front of us and something we’re very aware of.”

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