Evan Longoria already impacting Diamondbacks in more ways than 1
Feb 21, 2023, 5:29 PM
(Tyler Drake/Arizona Sports)
SCOTTSDALE — Evan Longoria didn’t sign on with the Arizona Diamondbacks this past offseason to be a pseudo coach.
Sure, he may be in the latter stage of his MLB career, but Longoria isn’t looking to be that old head caught on camera game in and game out shooting the breeze with manager Torey Lovullo in the dugout for 162 games.
He expects to hear his number called.
That doesn’t mean, however, that the veteran third baseman is focused solely on the play on the diamond.
Knowing he is closer to retirement than his MLB debut, Longoria is making sure he lends a helping hand on and off of the diamond while still showing his worth at the corner.
“I feel like I can add a lot, especially the way I’ve come into this camp feeling good not only from a mentor, leadership role, but also on the field,” Longoria said Tuesday. “I didn’t sign a contract here to be a coach or a manger or a mentor or anything like that.
“I came to put on the uniform and be between the lines as much as I can be and help this team win. My first focus is getting myself ready to play as many games as I’m asked to play and doing as much as I can to help this team win.”
He may not have signed a contract with Arizona with the sole intent of being a mentor, but it certainly is an added bonus for manager Torey Lovullo and Co. and it could pay dividends moving forward.
Given Longoria’s status and years served in the MLB, Lovullo is counting on his veteran third baseman to have those “different conversations” and help bridge the gap between working together on the field and getting together off of it.
Last season, the skipper said there were times when the off-the-field aspect took a backseat. Having a relatively young team didn’t necessarily help matters.
That can’t happen this season, especially if Arizona wants to harness the potential Longoria and other veterans are already seeing from the youth movement the D-backs are in.
Longoria already has an idea on how to curb last season’s trend.
“I explained to him some of the deficits we had with guys being able to corral the group, take them out to dinner,” Lovullo said. “It happens on this team, but he likes it to happen more often, and I do too. I think some of the things you do off the field build camaraderie and build that fellowship a little bit stronger.
“He assured me that he’ll get to that right away, such as dinners or outings as a group. He’s a pretty special human being, because he cares about the right things and he knows what’s important to the Arizona Diamondbacks.”
But for as much as Longoria is rubbing off on his younger counterparts, he is also seeing some added juice in return.
And while the jury’s still out as to how much he will play this season — Lovullo wants to be smart with the veteran so he can be available throughout the year — giving a guy who has been known to produce a little extra jolt of life is never a bad thing.
“(It makes me feel younger). … It’s definitely inspiring and gives me energy showing up with (22-year-old, 23-year-old guys),” Longoria said. “Just seeing that desire to be great and kind of finding their own path and wanting to figure out how they can be good Major League Baseball players and being around that brings out the best in me, too.
New #Dbacks 3B Evan Longoria is already seeing Arizona’s potential early on this spring.
“There’s a lot to look forward to. I think the ability’s there. We just got to figure out how to win.”
— Arizona Sports (@AZSports) February 21, 2023
“As far as the athletic ability goes, this group is second to none in terms of the combined abilities, both speed and power that this group has,” the third baseman added. “It’s going to be a matter of can we put those things together and can we figure out how to win ballgames with all that, but we’re off to a good start.”