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D-backs’ Torey Lovullo ‘jealous and angry’ at missing postseason

Arizona Diamondbacks manager Torey Lovullo (17) celebrate a win against the Cincinnati Reds with quality coach Robby Hammock, left, Ildemaro Vargas (15), and Eduardo Escobar (5) after a baseball game Saturday, Sept. 14, 2019, in Phoenix. The Diamondbacks defeated the Reds 1-0. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

PHOENIX — It’s not wrong to say the Arizona Diamondbacks exceeded expectations in 2019.

Picked to finish near the bottom of the NL West and the Majors in the preseason, Arizona managed to not only stay competitive, they flirted with the playoffs, getting as close as 1.5 games out from a NL Wild Card spot near the end of the year.

The D-backs did it without some of their best players too, trading away Zack Greinke at the MLB Trade Deadline and having David Peralta on the shelf with a shoulder injury for a good part of the season.

The team found success on the diamond in spurts, but for any MLB manager, not being able to break through into October always stings. Especially for D-backs skipper Torey Lovullo.

“The season’s a grind, everybody knows that,” Lovullo said during his pregame interview Sunday. “It’s a grind [on the media], it’s a grind on the players — I don’t know how they get through it. But I think emotionally you can step away and start to evaluate things a little bit differently. There’s zero stimulus. I’ll start to think through some things.

“But I’m jealous. I’m pissed, I’m jealous and angry that we’re not going to be able to put on one of those hoodie pullovers that has the special season saying for each team. And I’m going to be watching the [playoffs] with a lot of envy but I know what we got to do to get there, and I’m sure these guys are going to be watching the same way I am … when the playoffs start.”

They may be out of the postseason picture, but the D-backs still have something to play for on Sunday.

With a win, the team ends the season on a five-game winning streak. But what’s even more important in Sunday’s action is the return of Taijuan Walker to the mound.

Walker, who could be a vital piece to the D-backs’ rotation next season, gets the nod for the first time since April of 2018 after undergoing Tommy John Surgery 17 months prior.

When healthy, Walker has shown he can be an important part of the rotation for Arizona.

Before going down three games into the 2018 season, Walker went 9-9 with a 3.49 ERA and 146 strikeouts in 2017. He win total was good enough for fourth on the team.

Everyone always wants to make the postseason. That’s a given. But for a D-backs team looking to the future, Game No. 162 is more than just the final game of the year.

BASE HITS

– Lovullo provided an update on Adam Jones’ injury status ahead of Sunday’s game against the San Diego Padres.

“Adam Jones is okay. He just had some hamstring tightness, I think it was right hamstring tightness, so it wasn’t a strain or a pull. It was just tightness yesterday, so I’m going to try my best to stay away from him as well today.”

Jones left Saturday’s game in the fourth inning after going 0-1 on the day.

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