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Torey Lovullo believes poor play could be linked to trade deadline timing

(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

The MLB trade deadline is Wednesday.

For players, their name could be called at any moment, leading to uncertainty and a look-over-your-shoulder mentality until the deadline.

For coaches, the days leading up can be equally as rough.

Who’s on the way out? How will the clubhouse handle the possible move(s)? How will the team look moving forward, both internally and on the diamond?

Those are just some of the questions surrounding MLB teams, and it couldn’t be more real for the Arizona Diamondbacks.

It’s no secret, the D-backs have been named in numerous trade discussions from around the league. Especially in the last week.

Entering play Tuesday, the D-backs sat four games out of the National League Wild Card after struggling to string together wins of late. All told, the team has lost five of its last eight games as the trade deadline looms over the clubhouse.

But could the poor play actually be attributed to the timing of the trade deadline?

D-backs manager Torey Lovullo isn’t ruling out the possibility.

“I can’t help but think there is a connection because we’ve never really played like this,” Lovullo told Burns & Gambo on 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station on Tuesday. “It’s been a few games, and I’ve been saying to the media that’s been traveling with us for the past couple days … I’m paying very close attention to that specific thing.

“I don’t want us to lose focus because when we do, we don’t play at our best and the game becomes harder than it actually is. 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.

“This game’s hard enough,” Lovullo added. “If you listen to the black noise out there, it’s going to bog you down even more.”

Recently, the D-backs were as close as just two games out of an NL Wild Card spot.

But then came the Orioles and the Marlins, two teams at the bottom of their divisions.

While the team was able to win two games over the Orioles — losing 7-2 in the lone loss — Arizona fell flat against Miami, losing three games to the Marlins.

The four-game series was highlighted by an 11-6 loss to the Marlins on Monday, who had scored more than 11 runs just twice all season. Merrill Kelly was jumped on in the second inning, giving up six runs. Miami cruised to the win, pushing the D-backs down the postseason ranks even further.

Now, with the losses seemingly piling up, does that make the team more inclined to pick up the phone?

“Mike Hazen every once and awhile will call me and I’ll give him some insights on what happened in our game and how things have happened over the past couple days about what it’s going to take to win a baseball game today,” Lovullo said. “He hasn’t yet dove into that part of it with me and I think there’s probably strategy to it. He probably doesn’t want to bog me down with anything.

So if there’s anything, I’m unaware of it. I don’t know how busy we’re going to be. Usually the fury starts today … but I believe in this team. I want it to stay the way it is because I think once we get moving in a positive direction and play our best baseball we’re going to have a really good opportunity to do what we need to do.”

One name included in many of the trade rumors is D-backs lefty Robbie Ray.

Ray had been rolling for much of July, but ran into a speed bump on Saturday, recording his first loss of the month. Before the loss, Ray compiled four straight wins. He now sits 9-7 on the season, with trade rumors swirling.

“Hypothetically I know we’re assuming something does happen with Robbie. Look, he’s been an amazing teammate,” Lovullo said of the starter. “He has great balance between what he does at 7 p.m. and the day that he’s pitching and preparation that entire day. In combination with being a great friend and a great teammate and somebody that makes me laugh for the other four days.”

But while Lovullo wants to keep his team intact, he believes in Hazen making the right calls.

“I trust what Mike’s going to do and if he believes we need to go in another direction, I believe what he is going to do because he has his eye on today, he has his eye on tomorrow, next week, next month and next year.

“My job is here right now.”

Burns & Gambo

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