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D-backs’ Lovullo wants competition in spring for key roster spots, roles

Manager Torey Lovullo #17 of the Arizona Diamondbacks watches from the dugout during the MLB game against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Chase Field on June 05, 2019 in Phoenix, Arizona. The Diamondbacks defeated the Dodgers 3-2 in 11 innings. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Competition is key

Yes, spring training is in full swing.

No, the Arizona Diamondbacks are not jumping the gun with naming their closer, or any other position for that matter. Even if the answers appear clear.

There’s a method behind the madness.

“I have a really good person in mind, as we all do, and he’s done everything he’s supposed to do up to this point. I just want to make sure guys go out there and compete, that’s my theme right now,” manager Torey Lovullo said Monday. “If guys are going to pick up on any vibe that I’m talking about right now is that I want guys to go out and compete and do their job.

“Whether you are going to be the Opening Day starter, whether you’re going to be in the starting lineup as a position player, whether you’re going to be the closer, I want guys to ramp up and compete. That’s what we’ve got to get to right now, so I want to make sure I don’t give anybody anything at this point. I want to see their absolute best to earn things.”

While the starting rotation is up in the air, the D-backs have a number of starting-caliber pitchers on the roster, the closer job seemingly comes down to Archie Bradley and newcomers Junior Guerra and Hector Rondon.

Looking at Bradley’s 2019 totals, most notably the way he ended the year, it’s his job to lose.

The last two months of last season (24 games) saw Bradley post a 2.22 ERA, converting 17 of his 18 save opportunities. He allowed just 18 hits and six earned runs, while striking out 23 batters. Guerra had three saves in 2019, while Rondon recorded three blown saves after posting 15 saves for the Houston Astros in 2018.

Nothing’s set in stone, but one thing’s for sure; there’s still a lot of run left in spring training.

“We start to figure out what the plans going to be as we get closer to the end of camp, and I like to establish the roles and I know we’ve had those conversations probably in the last day where I’ve announced who the closer’s going to be, what the rotations looking like. I think when the send downs happen you’ll start to figure out how it’s taking form,” Lovullo said.

“But I like everybody to know their roles. It’s not going to be a secret once it happens, we’ll find out who those five guys are, I’ll make sure [the media’s] aware of it and those guys as well.”

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