Torey Lovullo’s message to D-backs entering critical stretch in postseason push

Sep 15, 2023, 6:20 PM

Corbin Carroll...

Corbin Carroll #7, Geraldo Perdomo #2 and Ketel Marte #4 of the Arizona Diamondbacks celebrate after defeating the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field on September 08, 2023 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)

(Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)

PHOENIX — Arizona Diamondbacks manager Torey Lovullo stood in front of his clubhouse before Friday’s series opener against the Chicago Cubs with a simple message.

Friday is Game 149 on the season, as the D-backs only have a couple weeks to separate themselves as one of the seven National League playoff teams. They entered the day in a virtual tie for the final wild card spot with five games against fellow contenders on tap.

“‘Give me everything you got for 14 days,'” Lovullo said. “‘Do it for me, do it for the coaches who are training you and talking to you, do it for your brother sitting next to you. At the end of 14, you can’t lose if you give your absolute best. Everybody’s tired, everybody’s cranky, but that fatigue is easy to overcome if you want it bad enough.’

“That’s what I just got done telling the group and we’ll see how it goes. Sometimes I say things inspiring. Sometimes it works. Sometimes it doesn’t. We’ll find out.”

Outfielder Alek Thomas said first baseman Christian Walker and outfielder Tommy Pham also gave words of advice as veterans in the room.

“It was good to have that leadership, somebody to say something after a tough couple of days,” Thomas said.

The Cubs entered the series 2.5 games ahead of the D-backs as the second wild card team. Arizona gets a day off Monday, ending a grueling stretch of 17 games in 17 days, before the San Francisco Giants come to Chase Field. They are mere percentage points ahead of the D-backs for that last spot.

The Diamondbacks created a terrific opportunity to grab a hold of one of the wild card slots by winning three of four games against the Cubs at Wrigley Field last week, but three straight losses against the New York Mets knocked them back.

Their top two starters, Zac Gallen and Merrill Kelly, got lit up at Citi Field, and the offense has not performed to its peak ability consistently this month. There’s a lot to overcome, but as Lovullo pointed out, this has been a resilient group.

The skipper felt that this is not a time to put more pressure on oneself, insisting the need for his players to rest on the foundation they’ve built and enjoy some of the biggest games of their careers.

“This is the greatest time of our lives at this point the season, you have a chance to grab something that’s within your reach, it’s real, you should enjoy it. You should enjoy the journey and being a part of the journey,” Lovullo said.

“You always want to address weaknesses, but at a certain point, especially late in the year, you got to buy into what makes you good,” Walker said. “We’re down to 14 games or whatever, there’s no time to dwell.”

First pitch on Friday is at 6:40 p.m. with Arizona rookie Brandon Pfaadt pitching against Cubs ace Justin Steele.

D-backs injury updates

Lovullo said right-hander Drey Jameson was pulled back from his throwing program, halting his progress toward a last-minute return to the mound. Lovullo said Jameson felt “tenderness” in his arm and is being evaluated.

Jameson is on the 60-day injured list after straining his UCL.

Mark Melancon (shoulder) continues to throw in the Arizona Complex League. He is able to throw all of his pitches, but Lovullo his his velocity is not where the pitcher has expected it to be at this point.

Cubs All-Star pitcher Marcus Stroman (hip) was activated off the injured list and will be used as a reliever at first, Chicago manager David Ross told reporters.

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