2022 in review: D-backs’ Torey Lovullo praises youth, will push vets
Arizona Diamondbacks manager Torey Lovullo, generally positive by nature, sees the glass half full after a 74-88 season.
More than a handful of internally developed players from the time Lovullo and general manager Mike Hazen took over the roster in late 2016 made more than a mark this season.
It was a validating season looking backward. The D-backs identified talented prospects through the draft and then taught them. And 2022 at least looks reassuring after a 52-win campaign in 2021.
Joining Arizona Sports’ Burns & Gambo for his final interview of the season Tuesday, Lovullo was asked how he would distill the themes of the season down.
“Probably the growth and development of eight home-grown players that were drafted in our system and came through and impacted us on a very high level (stood out),” he said. “The guys that you mentioned — (starting pitchers Zac Gallen) and Merrill Kelly — just a great job by our front office of identifying guys to bring in from a different avenue. But I’m going think of those eight guys that when we set out on this journey six-plus years ago as a group that came in. We wanted to develop our own players and we could incorporate our own concepts and have them grow up understanding how certain things were to us. That makes me feel very good.
“We left a lot of chips out there on the table and I watched a lot of other teams rake those chips away,” Lovullo added. “That is still sitting in my belly right now.”
So while the youthful infusion looks promising, Lovullo will be sure to give those players as well as the remaining veterans offseason homework.
Outfielders Corbin Carroll, Alek Thomas, Jake McCarthy and Daulton Varsho fall into the bucket of in-house prospects who shined this year. Stone Garrett and Pavin Smith also contributed to different degrees.
Late in the season, starting pitchers Drey Jameson and Ryne Nelson joined them. They combined for seven starts, going 4-1 and each posting an ERA just below 1.50.
They surely will compete for rotation roles behind Gallen and Kelly.
Perhaps, too, will veteran Madison Bumgarner, who sputtered and finished 7-15 with a 4.88 ERA and 1.44 WHIP. Shut down for portions of the year, he perhaps has more to figure out compared to anyone else on the roster.
“I know it’s been a very trying year for him,” Lovullo said.
“I know that (the rotation questions are) centered around, you’ve got Gallen, you’ve got Kelly: Where does Bum fit in? I don’t know. I don’t know that answer, but I want Bum to fit in.”
Similarly, although to a lesser degree, there is a lack of optimism heading into the offseason regarding infielder Ketel Marte. By money earned and resume, he should be the team’s best offensive player.
Marte slashed .240/.321/.407 this year, appearing in 137 games.
While the 28-year-old hit a career-high 42 doubles, his 52 RBIs and 12 home runs were far from his 2019 All-Star season of 92 RBIs and 32 home runs.
“I feel like when he’s healthy we know what he can do,” Lovullo said. “I don’t want us to keep going backwards and saying — and I’m guilty of it — I’ve talked about ’19 a lot. (It) was a special year for him.
“I think there’s some agility, some lower-leg stuff that he can do to keep his legs healthy when he’s on the field. He’s probably going to be one of the best players I ever managed, as far as talent goes. That only goes so far.”