Dustin Pedroia provides advice, rallies D-backs amid playoff push
Sep 20, 2023, 1:45 PM
(Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)
PHOENIX — Arizona Diamondbacks manager Torey Lovullo and Red Sox legend Dustin Pedroia go way back, so Lovullo brought the three-time World Series champion in to say a few words of wisdom on Friday.
“I asked him, ‘Do you want me to give you any guidelines?’ And he said, ‘I’m good. I know exactly what I want to tell your team because I watch you guys every single night,'” Lovullo said on Tuesday.
Pedroia, also an Arizona State baseball great, told the D-backs to enjoy the playoff push and brought up the 2007 Red Sox, Lovullo said. That club won the title with 23-year-olds Jacoby Ellsbury and Pedroia at the top of the lineup and 23-year-old Jon Lester starting Game 4 of their sweep against the Colorado Rockies.
Of course, David Ortiz and Manny Ramirez were also on the team, but the message Lovullo explained was youth is not an excuse.
“‘Don’t tell me a young team can’t win a world championship.’ He immediately takes your sightline … to ‘Yeah, we can do this. We got this and we’re good enough to do it,'” Lovullo said.
“It’s really hard to win in the postseason, but you just got to get to the dance and play as a team and it takes everybody in the locker room,” catcher Seby Zavala took away from it. “Someone who’s done it and done it multiple times, it’s good to hear what they have to say and their outside perspectives.”
Lovullo coached in Boston from 2013-16 with Pedroia on the team before landing the D-backs’ managerial position.
The D-backs responded with a series sweep of the Chicago Cubs to grab the second NL Wild Card spot in what is still as tight a race as can be.
Arizona has had the third-youngest offense (27.4 years) and sixth-youngest pitching staff (28.5 years) in the National League this year by average age, and the club is younger now with the call ups of Jordan Lawlar, Andrew Saalfrank and Bryce Jarvis.
No one in Arizona’s starting lineup on Wednesday against the San Francisco Giants has played in the postseason since 2020. But there is a combination of youthful athleticism and veteran savvy that Lovullo said has blended together well.
Just get in has been a message expressed throughout the year, as the team with the best record is far from a guarantee to reach the World Series. Wild card teams represented the NL in the World Series in 2022 (Phillies), 2019 (Nationals) and 2014 (Giants).
“When you get to the playoffs, there’s no doubt that you have more adrenaline, more energy, the crowds are bigger, you understand that you’re one of 10 teams playing. As you go further, there’s more eyes on you, but that’s what we play for,” veteran infielder Evan Longoria told Arizona Sports’ Burns & Gambo on Tuesday.
“That’s what we’ve been talking about all year from spring training is preparing for moments like this. I think the guys have been doing a really good job of embracing it.”
The Diamondbacks entered Wednesday with 10 games remaining on the schedule.