Torey Lovullo: David Peralta among D-backs leaders filling void
Step one of moving on from a relationship: Getting over it.
Step two: Moving on.
In those terms, there were looming emotions for the Arizona Diamondbacks after first baseman Paul Goldschmidt was traded to the St. Louis Cardinals in December. And now with spring training set to begin, there’s not just a sense of finality but one of forward-thinking.
“I’m not immune to those feelings,” said D-backs manager Torey Lovullo, who joined Doug & Wolf on 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station Monday for Newsmakers Week. “I gave myself probably a couple weeks before I said, hey, he’s not going to be walking into those doors in spring training.
“You wondered if he was happy, the common questions. He was assuring everyone he was ready to move on. I knew it was time for me to move on. Once I did after a couple of weeks … it’s time to turn the page and make something happen.”
Maybe Diamondbacks reliever Archie Bradley said it best over the weekend. At the team’s annual fan fest event and with spring training beginning in the coming weeks, he admitted a noticeable void was felt without Goldschmidt, center fielder A.J. Pollock and pitcher Patrick Corbin.
Then came a realization.
“We keep joking around like we’re waiting for the guys to show up,” Bradley said on 98.7 FM. “We are the guys now: (Jake) Lamb, (David) Peralta, (Zack) Godley, (Andrew) Chafin. We are the face of this team. We are the people that are going to determine if we win or lose this year. I think we’re all kind of realizing that.”
Lovullo thought Bradley summed it up perfectly.
Goldschmidt’s presence will be missed. He was one to pull players aside, to work out conflicts in the locker room and to take the workload off his manager. Players like Pollock, who signed with the Dodgers, and even Daniel Descalso, who joined the Cubs, did the same.
Now it’s a matter of who will replace them moving forward.
To Lovullo, that means communicating new expectations and finding fitting roles for players ready to step up at the plate — and in the dugout or the clubhouse.
Bradley is an obvious choice because of his outspokenness.
Outfielder David Peralta, another emotional leader, is expected to take on a new leadership role as well. His name was the first out of Lovullo’s mouth when asked about who will fill the void left by Goldschmidt’s departure.
“One guy I know that’s embracing this new role is David Peralta,” Lovullo said. “It was a seamless conversation that I had with David. I just wanted to alert him as to what was going on. I explained to him, like, this is what naturally happens with some leaders of the team. I want to have these conversations, I want to open up this dialog and I want to make sure you’re comfortable having these types of conversations.
“There are some leaders that are waiting to emerge and we’ll see who those are once spring training starts.”
— Lovullo, unsurprisingly, wasn’t ready to commit to any plan for who will close for the Diamondbacks in 2019. That will play itself out this spring.
— Who will replace Pollock in center field? Goldschmidt at first? Position battles will be aplenty, but Lovullo did speak on the possibility of second baseman Ketel Marte moving to center field. He called that possibility fluid at this point.
“We know that Ketel Marte and (shortstop) Nick Ahmed in the middle of the diamond were probably the best double-play combination, as far as I could say and from my angle,” Lovullo said. “I’ll stand by that. Are we foolish if we’re going to move Ketel Marte off second base and put him in center field? Possibly. But if he does move to center field, he’s going to be exceptional.
“We have set a defensive standard. We are not going to fall below that standard.”