Torey Lovullo: “I’m tired of getting our butts kicked’

PHOENIX – Since the success of a 2017 post-season appearance, the Arizona Diamondbacks, in addition to a stigma as “a small market team,” have endured dishonor as underachievers. Subsequent to that post-season achievement under Torey Lovullo’s first year as manager, challenging times befell the club.

In the past three years, Arizona has not reached the .500 level and the nadir of a 52-110 season in 2021 left a horrifying and sickening feeling throughout the entire organization.

Direct to these fortunes, Lovullo recently told reporters, “we spent a couple of years legitimately getting our butts kicked, and I think they are tired of this.”

While the Diamondbacks wandered about the baseball landscape in search of finding ways to be competitive, the revolving door of the clubhouse continued to spin. Players came and went and now Mike Hazen, the club’s general manager, put together a team in which players believe success is attainable.

“Many of the players from those past years are not here, so I think that argument is irrelevant,” said first baseman Christian Walker before Saturday’s game with Baltimore in Chase Field. “This group embraces the moment and recognizes we’re competing for the post-season. Everyone in here believes this is achievable.”

Around the Diamondbacks clubhouse, there appears a quiet confidence and assurance of the task ahead. For this club to compete through September, the road could be filled with roadblocks.

For one, the starting pitching might be compromised. That’s because the top of the rotation, with right-handers Merrill Kelly and Zac Gallen, represents the essential composition. As the calendar moves into the final critical month, Lovullo inserted Brandon Pfaadt and Slade Cecconi, a pair of rookie righties, to fill important vacant spots. Add veteran Zack Davies to the mix and Lovullo believes this rotation of five has enough in the tank to compete.

Another concern is the bullpen.

If there has been a major characteristic of that unit, it is inconsistency. A prime example is Miguel Castro, a recent castoff from the New York Yankees. Through the opening months, Castro appeared ready to assume the critical role of closer. From June, however, his inability to get outs during important moments pushed the 6-7 native of La Romano, Dominican Republic into the role of middle reliever.

For a closer, Lovullo turns to Pau3l Sewald and Ryan Thompson, a pair of veteran relievers. All of which could put the Diamondbacks in the middle of playoff contention or foreshadow the frustration of another disappointing season.

At this point, Lovullo indicated his team is ready to extinguish the past and create a new history. Given the ebb and flow of the season and 20-31 record through July and August, “I’m proud of this team, the way they rebounded and got back on their feet,” he affirmed.

“I’m not into moral victories,” Lovullo asserted. “Plus, none of the guys are thinking that way, too. This group really wants to do something good here.”

Future of the rotation … If Lovullo is counting upon Cecconi and Pfaadt for support, early numbers do not appear encouraging. Cecconi, despite posting a 2,57 ERA through his initial five appearances and three starts, hit the wall Sept. 2 against Baltimore.

After cruising through the opening three innings, Cecconi surrendered six consecutive hits, including three extra-base hits and a three-run homer to Cedric Mullins. In this one, Cecconi lasted only 3.1 innings, and tossed 71 pitches, including 33 in that disastrous fourth inning.

While Pfaadt has pitched well in recent starts, he sports a 1-7 record and 6.21 ERA in 14 starts. Both are expected to remain in Lovullo’s starting rotation.

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