Arizona Diamondbacks extend Torey Lovullo; what is his value?

PHOENIX – Before the Sunday series finale against the Atlanta Braves in Chase Field, the Arizona Diamondbacks extended manager Torey Lovullo through the 2024 season. While the news broke from multiple outlets the night before, the early success experienced by Arizona, through the opening two months of the season, foretold a positive future.

That would mean through next season and when Lovullo met the media prior to the Sunday game, he wax thoughtfully in wishing the extension was lifetime. Proclaiming “I love Arizona and my family loves Arizona,” Lovullo, in nearly a decade in the desert, has established roots.

He has been part of teams that experienced high levels of joy and sheer excitement to the depths of despair. It is through the nadir of the 2021 season which continues to motivate the 57-year-old native of Santa Monica, Cal.

While Lovullo admits going through a professional alteration, the biggest asset he brings is the ability to communicate and to make sure his style and words clearly resonate with players. Here, he credits Terry Francona, his manager in Cleveland for making him feel wanted and important, “and I was the 24th or 25th man on the team,” he noted. The ability to nurture and support represents the core of Lovullo’s approach on the baseball diamond.

When Lovullo was hired in October 2016, along with general manager Mike Hazen to direct on-field operations, perhaps the most definitive point Lovullo made that day was the need to communicate.

“What matters to the players, matters with me,” he said nearly seven years ago.

While players respond to his open-door policy and teaching, Lovullo admitted that he has learned to engage in difficult conversations. One of the most difficult, he admitted earlier this season, was the release of veteran left-hander Madison Bumgarner.

“I’ve had some tough conversations, and this was definitely up here,” Lovullo said at the time the organization released Bumgarner. “I had a very strong relationship with (Bumgarner) and different from anything anyone (in the interview room) knows. We’re conditioned to make these decisions. Even though it’s sad and heartbreaking at times, you move forward.”

The team’s success over the opening two months reflects Lovullo’s approach. While he says baseball in particular and sports, in general, is result-oriented, decisions are made to push the team forward.

Earlier this season, lefty Tommy Henry, right-hander Drey Jameson, outfielder Jake McCarthy and utility player Pavin Smith were all optioned to AAA Reno. While Lovullo identified these moves as players not producing in a results-oriented environment, each was recalled in May and now executes on the level which helped push Arizona into its current position.

As Lovullo continues an impressive run in 2023, his value appears to be on two levels.

First, the nature of his comminution skills has not changed. After the Diamondbacks were swept by the Los Angeles Dodgers in the 2017 National League Divisions series, then-reliever Archie Bradley told reporters, “there is no other manager I’d rather play for than Torey Lovullo.” That was after Lovullo’s first year as manager and he led Arizona into the post-season.

More important, Lovullo’s growth as an individual and how manages the day-to-day operation evolved. When he assumed the manager’s position to start the 2017 season, he admitted to placing players between the white line and expected execution. Now, he relies on his coaching staff as instructions and uses the field of analysis to complement the role of coaches.

Combined, Lovullo and Hazen have been able, through early June, to maximize their talent in a very competitive National League West division. With nearly two-thirds of the season still to be played, the Diamondbacks should benefit from Lovullo’s ability to resonate on all levels and reap benefits from a more mature and complete field manager.

On the road again … On Tuesday, the Diamondbacks open a six-game trip in Washington. Lefty Tommy Henry (3-1, 3.73 ERA) opens the trip and draws righty Jake Irvin (1-3, 5.67) as his mound opponent, After the series against the Nationals, it’s on to Detroit and three with the Tigers. The Diamondbacks return to Chase Field June 12 for four with the Phillies and three with the Guardians.

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