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Manager Torey Lovullo owns up to toughest season in his D-backs tenure

Arizona Diamondbacks manager Torey Lovullo watches his players during a summer baseball training camp intrasquad game at Chase Field, Thursday, July 16, 2020, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Matt York)

There’s no arguing that 2020 was the worst season for the Arizona Diamondbacks in the Torey Lovullo era.

Since the becoming manager of the D-backs, Lovullo led the team to three straight seasons of over-.500 baseball, including a trip to the postseason to go along with the 2017 NL Manager of the Year award.

But in this year’s season that was shortened to 60 games due to the coronavirus pandemic, Arizona finished 25-35 and under .500 for the first time since 2016.

“It was a tough year, I’m not going to sugarcoat it,” Lovullo told reporters via Zoom on Tuesday. “I’m going to wear it for the majority of this offseason.

“At some point, we’ll turn the page and start to look forward to a very healthy and successful 2021 baseball season. But right now I want to accept what happened and I want to dig in on the reasons why it happened and search out everything I possibly can so we can have some growth and fire forward as quickly as possible.”

Lovullo added that he hasn’t yet completely decompressed from the 2020 campaign. The manager said that he’s been lying around his house thinking about all the good and bad that transpired this season.

“Obviously what we do in baseball is think about the things that don’t go right and I want to make sure that I address those the right way, sit down with staff, sit down with the front office and just talk about all the moments so we can start to move forward,” Lovullo said.

D-backs general manager Mike Hazen and Lovullo both admitted on Tuesday that they’ll try to not watch the postseason from home because it hurts too much. However, the Diamondbacks manager said he’ll probably end up getting “locked in” to the World Series and will use that as motivation to propel his team into the offseason and next year.

“These next couple of days I imagine are going to be difficult for me, but I want them to be. I deserve that, that’s how I look at it,” Lovullo said. “Because I want to properly apply things the right way so I can continue to grow and move forward.

“We didn’t make the playoffs. We were not one of the eight teams. That’s just going to personally fuel me to go out and be the best version of myself and be the leader of this organization from the dugout level.”

Lovullo said that 2020 may have had some of the most difficult times in his baseball career as a player, coach or manager. The former NL Manager of the Year said something he learned from this season that he will bring over to 2021 is not taking every loss so hard because his energy could potentially radiate throughout the clubhouse.

“I learned quickly that each day is independent of the next,” he said. “You have to turn the page as quickly as possible and get back out there on that horse and saddle up.”

And in a sport like baseball where 60 games aren’t even 40% of a normal 162-game schedule, team continuity and working out of slumps were going to be even greater challenges this season. That lack of time to turn things around while still trying to compete for October baseball may have been a reason why Lovullo was more loyal to some players than others in 2020.

“What loyalty means in [someone else’s] world might mean something totally different in my world. I have a philosophy on the group of players that are here. I divide them up into pitchers and position players,” Lovullo said. “I believe in the position players that are here every night. I believe in staying with somebody through the good times and the bad. If I could predict when somebody was going to get a hit on a night, it would be like me going to play the roulette wheel and hitting red every time and black every time — I just don’t think it’s possible to do.

“One of my core philosophies is to believe in somebody, coach them, teach them and allow them to go out and perform and show me what they can do over a long period of time. … We’ve gotten used to winning baseball games here. This is just an outlier type of a year. I don’t know if it’s been said this year or in years past, but loyalty builds trust and a trusted player goes out there and performs to the best of their ability.”


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