D-backs’ Evan Longoria impacting winning early in new role

Apr 10, 2023, 2:03 PM

Evan Longoria #3 of the Arizona Diamondbacks gets ready to step into the batters box against the Lo...

Evan Longoria #3 of the Arizona Diamondbacks gets ready to step into the batters box against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Chase Field on April 07, 2023 in Phoenix, Arizona. (Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images)

(Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images)

Arizona Diamondbacks third baseman Evan Longoria started in only two games last week against left-handed pitching, and he made impacts in both games.

The 37-year-old went 3-for-3 in a 6-3 win over Clayton Kershaw and the Los Angeles Dodgers on Friday, shooting a single to right field and a home run and double to left on top of registering a walk.

Longoria admitted that he heard a lot about him joining a young D-backs team as the mentorship figure, but he wants it clear that he puts on the uniform to impact winning in his role.

“I want to produce on the field first and foremost,” Longoria told reporters over the weekend. “I’m still putting on a uniform to go out and play the game. I don’t want to go out there and go 0-for-4 and be the guy who guys ask questions on the bench about how it was 15 years ago — that’s not the only thing I want to do. When you have results, it makes it easier to have those conversations when you help the team win.”

Longoria went 5-for-14 with a pair of long balls and doubles in the first 10 games of the year.

Manager Torey Lovullo has a specific plan for Longoria in an attempt to keep him healthy all season. He said he will be cautious not to gas him out, as Longoria has not started against a right-handed pitcher after producing an .812 OPS against lefties last year compared to .732 facing right-handers.

Lovullo harkened back to Asdrubal Cabrera’s time in Arizona during the 2021 season, as the manager felt he overworked the 35-year-old early on, leading to injury.

Longoria said there is a level of acceptance needed when joining a new team with a new plan, but he still believes in his ability to lead on and off the field in his opportunities.

“There’s a difference between me going home and looking in the mirror and telling myself I’ve been a good player in this league for a long time and putting it into action on the field,” Longoria said.

Lovullo said he could tell from Longoria’s bat speed with the San Francisco Giants over the previous five seasons that he could still rake. Longoria had a 119 OPS+ (100 is league average) from 2021-22.

Part of Arizona’s recruitment of Longoria involved making it clear to him the value they saw on the field.

Lovullo explained his clubhouse presence has already been felt, but he also uses his 15 years of MLB experience whenever he digs into the box.

“There’s just professionalism every time he steps into the box, and you know that he’s not going to get overmatched,” Lovullo told reporters. “He’s going to have a great game plan.”

In the dugout, Lovullo said he’s already eavesdropped on Longoria instructing other players to learn more about the game. The skipper added the veteran gives coaches ideas, telling a story of Longoria explaining crisper ways to perform first-and-third defense just before the season started.

Lovullo said Longoria challenged the D-backs’ bunt coverages to get a full understanding of them.

“There’s conversations I’m sure he’s having that I won’t be aware of until 10 years from now and the DNA is all over this team, and Corbin references him in a conversation that he had during his time here,” Lovullo said.

“He’s been great, I’m glad to have him here, I think everyone is,” said pitcher Madison Bumgarner, who was Longoria’s teammate for two years in San Francisco. “He’s a special player, generational player, he offers a lot. A lot of people don’t get a chance to play with someone like that.”

On the field, the D-backs will call upon Longoria on Monday night against the Milwaukee Brewers against southpaw Wade Miley.

Catch all the action between the D-backs at Brewers at 6:40 p.m. on Arizona Sports, the app or online.

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