D-backs Zoom ahead with higher expectations

December 6th, 2023

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- In the final weeks of most regular seasons, D-backs manager Torey Lovullo and a member of the baseball operations department will sit down with each player and review the season and discuss offseason programs and what areas players might want to get better in.

These aren’t just throwaway meetings. Instead, they help set the stage for a player’s offseason work.

With his team in a tense battle for a postseason spot this year, those meetings didn’t happen. And when a team makes the postseason, the end of the year is always abrupt -- in this case for the D-backs it came after Game 5 of the World Series -- so again there was no opportunities for meetings.

“[D-backs GM Mike Hazen] and I made a conscious decision late in the season that we weren't going to have any conversations until our season was officially over because sometimes it signifies the end, right?” Lovullo said. “The end is near. We never felt that way, nor did we want the players to ever feel that way.”

Recently, Lovullo began conducting the 2023 end-of-the-year talks via Zoom -- a sign that the D-backs have their eyes on next year.

“Torey and the coaches started a series of individual meetings last week with all of our players,” Hazen said. “They picked out two to three days and did like eight to nine hours -- just one guy after the next the next because we didn't end up getting to sit down with our players to kind of walk through what we needed to do in the offseason.

“That's a great sign for me … flipping the page and getting ready to come back in the spring. So we're doing some of those things, knowing that we didn't accomplish what we wanted to accomplish.”

Said Lovullo, “We had a very particular agenda of what we wanted to get accomplished through those meetings. And it is about what are you going to do to rest, recover, and then also get ready?”

Last year, the D-backs were able to sneak up on the baseball world. Most preseason predictions had them finishing at least behind the Dodgers and Padres, if not the Giants, too.

In 2024, they still might not be picked to win the division, but there will certainly be much higher expectations. That’s something this particular group of players has not had to deal with before.

“That's unavoidable, and I want us to embrace that,” Lovullo said. “I get introduced at different things or different events, and it's the National League champion Arizona Diamondbacks. That sounds great, [but] there's now an ‘X’ on our back.

“I've already been talking about it, to embrace it. So we have to learn to embrace that, accept what we are and that we deserve it. If we can come to grips with that, I think we're going to get back to focusing on what we do every single day.”