D-backs manager Torey Lovullo reflects on 1994 strike following MLB lockout

Mar 15, 2022, 6:13 AM | Updated: 11:56 am

Manager Torey Lovullo #17 of the Arizona Diamondbacks watches from the dugout during the second inn...

Manager Torey Lovullo #17 of the Arizona Diamondbacks watches from the dugout during the second inning of the MLB game against the Seattle Mariners at Chase Field on September 05, 2021 in Phoenix, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

SCOTTSDALE — Arizona Diamondbacks manager Torey Lovullo was a 29-year-old infielder for the Seattle Mariners when the 1994 MLB strike commenced.

He told reporters on Monday that he had learned the rest of the season was canceled from a news ticker on ESPN.

Lovullo said the situation as awkward, and the fan support when the action restarted in 1995 was “lean.” He thanked Cal Ripken Jr.’s consecutive games played streak as a force that brought popularity back to the sport.

The D-backs had their first mandatory day of spring training on Monday after the 99-day league-imposed lockout concluded last week. MLB and the MLBPA agreed to a new collective bargaining agreement and salvaged a 162-game season.

But, Lovullo knows it will take effort to regain the fans’ attention after a turbulent offseason.

“I mentioned today and in the time that I spent with the guys before we started our day, we’re the Arizona Diamondbacks, we’re obligated to reconnect with those fans,” Lovullo said.

“We have a responsibility as an organization, we have a responsibility industry-wide to win back our fans and show them that we really care about them.”

The D-backs have a quick ramp up to spring training games, which begin on Thursday when Arizona faces the Colorado Rockies at Salt River Fields.

There were sparse spectators watching bullpens at camp on Monday, and Lovullo feels that showing the fanbase the squad is back to business is important. So is getting the team ready for Opening Day on April 7 against the San Diego Padres, and the manager said he and his staff went over how to best approach that.

The players took it upon themselves to continue their offseason programs or simply stay in shape for the season.

Starting pitcher Madison Bumgarner told reporters he ramped up to come to spring training at it’s original date and kept building. Infielder/outfielder Ketel Marte said he focused on getting his hamstring healthy.

Lovullo remembered staying in shape to be as ready as possible when faced with a comparable situation as a player.

Infielder/outfielder Joshua Rojas told reporters that he learned a lot from the unusual ramp up in 2020, when MLB’s season began in July due to the COVID-19 pandemic and disagreements between the league and players regarding salaries.

“I stayed in shape for a couple of weeks and then I kind of gave up on it and thought ‘there’s no shot,'” Rojas said on Friday. “When the season kicked off again, I came in out of shape and underweight … So I made sure this time to stay ready.”

Lovullo said his players will get a lot done leading up to the season, and he was very satisfied with how the team looked physically on Monday.

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