Arizona Diamondbacks manager Torey Lovullo provides players and coaches a place to hear and be heard. One of his greatest talents as a manager lies in his ability to communicate to and with his staff and players so all are moving in the same direction. This “intangible” is important in a game that sometimes values numbers over people. Lovullo is a manager who has successfully married the two.
Torey Lovullo Remains Optimistic
From losing streaks to winning, poor offense to hot batting, and an inconsistent, overused bullpen that has moments of greatness, the past few weeks for the Diamondbacks have been, as the old cliché says, up and down. Through this all, however, Manager Torey Lovullo remains optimistic, reminding everyone that this team has yet to play its best baseball. He keeps letting us know this team is ready to break out at any time. He knows the effort is there and the standings remain encouraging for a Wild Card spot. Now he just needs to get his players to grasp this and start playing consistent baseball, especially at home. This shouldn’t be hard for a man known as a “players’ manager.”
The Style of Managing has Changed
The style of managing in the big leagues has changed quite a bit in recent years. Though numbers (stats) are important, the personal aspect of the game—the interactions between players, players and coaches, and players and the manager and the atmosphere in the clubhouse — has become just as important. With that, the manager has a greater influence on communication with his players, both on the field and in the clubhouse than ever before.
We know in baseball you can have a group of players that may not look as talented on paper as other teams (stats), but they win. The reason they win is because their manager believes in their abilities and communicates that to and with everyone. He is able to meld differing backgrounds and personalities into a cohesive unit. This is what you see with Torey Lovullo. He brings to the Arizona Diamondbacks organization an investment in the “human” aspect of the game, an ability to create a unified team of all players and coaches.
He believes in the importance of team chemistry, and since his arrival, we know that he has been able to get the most out of players. He gives them every possible chance to make good. If he takes a pitcher who just did not have it that day out of the game, he is on the bench talking to the player, letting him know that tomorrow is another day. He listens to the players’ concerns and accepts input of all his coaches. The players respond to that and become a team — not just a group of men who play together. He is a strong communicator and is excellent at relating not only with players, but with personnel throughout the organization. Of course, managing and leading players is probably his biggest benefit.
Lovullo got the best of two worlds of baseball. He grew up in the old-school style of the game. Before spending nine years as a minor league manager, he was an infielder for parts of eight seasons in the majors. He worked six seasons as John Farrell’s bench coach with the Toronto Blue Jays then with the Boston Red Sox. Through that period, he watched the surge of information around the sport change, especially with the increase of analytics available to all teams.
The game changed, too, with more emphasis on home runs, pitch counts, and a defensive shift. Lovullo not only remembers the unique ways managers, including those he worked with and played for, worked the game and motivated players, he was at the ground floor with the analytics movement. He started incorporating analytics into his daily routine when he joined the Red Sox coaching staff in 2013 but never lost his ability to communicate with and motivate his players.
Named Diamondbacks Manager
Torey Lovullo was named Diamondbacks manager on November 4, 2016. He became the ninth manager in their history (not counting Wally Backman’s four days as Manager). He immediately started reaching out to players following his introductory press conference and began to work on building his coaching staff. In his first season as manager in 2017, he made the postseason after finishing the regular season with a 93-69 record. He won the 2017 National League Manager of the Year by the Baseball Writers Association of America. Last year, as late as August 30, they were 74-60 and were the leading Wild Card team before the epic collapse. Even though they failed to reach the playoffs, the Diamondbacks rewarded Lovullo in January with an extension through 2021.
Team is in a “Retooling” Phase
No one disputes that the team is in a “retooling” phase. Holding on to Lovullo provides the needed stability amidst all the change. With all the subtractions this off-season, the excitement surrounding the Arizona Diamondbacks had decreased for the 2019 season with the trading of their most popular player. Lovullo has proven he can build a cohesive team and will use his skills as a leader and manager as well as a communicator to get the most out of a group of players who are not only new to the team, but to one another.
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