Torey Lovullo: Diamondbacks likely to rotate designated hitters

Mar 19, 2022, 11:27 AM
Arizona Diamondbacks' Christian Walker connects for a two-run home run off Colorado Rockies startin...

Arizona Diamondbacks' Christian Walker connects for a two-run home run off Colorado Rockies starting pitcher German Marquez in the sixth inning of a baseball game Tuesday, April 6, 2021, in Denver. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

(AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

SCOTTSDALE — The Arizona Diamondbacks have not yet finalized a plan for their designated hitter, but manager Torey Lovullo said he will likely rotate players into the spot.

“We’re going to obviously stay with our internal candidates. We feel like we have a number of really good hitters and I’m probably going to use it as a rotation,” Lovullo said on Thursday. “Giving a guy a day off, matching up the best possible guy that’s going to help us impact a baseball game. So not one particular DH.”

The collective bargaining agreement accepted last week included the implementation of the universal DH across both the National League and American League.

Having a DH is not entirely new for Lovullo, as he has American League experience. He acted as the interim manager of the Boston Red Sox in 2015 and was their bench coach from 2013-16.

MLB instituted the universal DH during the 60-game 2020 season, as well.

The team rotated different hitters in that spot during the shortened campaign, as 14 different D-backs started at DH in 2020, according to Baseball Reference.

Lovullo said he will miss some of the strategies that come with having pitchers in the lineup, though, but he acknowledged that having the DH spot available will take some stress off of him.

He remembered taking out starting pitcher Anthony Banda after four innings because the D-backs had multiple runners on base with a chance to score during a 2017 game against the Los Angeles Dodgers. Now, pitching decisions and batting order decisions will be separated.

“It takes a lot of pressure off me to make a pitching decision before it’s the right time,” Lovullo said.

“I can just figure out where the pitcher is going to go and how he’s doing and a certain pitch count that he gets to. I’m probably not going to let him exceed it. But it’s about his work and how he’s doing. And that’s that’s the only factor as to what I’ll be evaluating when I make a decision to take him out of the game.”

Arizona shuffled a lot of players through different positions last season.

Josh Rojas played five positions in 2021 and Ketel Marte split time at second base and center field. The DH allows teams to get another bat in the lineup without having an effect on defensive positioning.

Lovullo said regardless of having the DH or not, his team will keep players at more set positions this season.

Just don’t expect pitcher Madison Bumgarner to be in the DH rotation. Bumgarner, who has 19 career home runs, told reporters this week that he did not even bring bats to spring training.

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