PHOENIX -- If you talk to people in the game about new D-backs manager Torey Lovullo, one of the first things they will tell you about is his ability to relate to players.The importance of that skill was recently reinforced with the World Series matchup between the Cubs' Joe Maddon
PHOENIX -- If you talk to people in the game about new D-backs manager Torey Lovullo, one of the first things they will tell you about is his ability to relate to players.
The importance of that skill was recently reinforced with the World Series matchup between the Cubs' Joe Maddon and the Indians' Terry Francona, both regarded among the best at being able to get their players to perform at their best.
"Some of the things we were drawn to with Torey is an ability to connect with people, his communication style, his role as a teacher -- through all his experiences in the Minor and Major Leagues -- led us to this time where we felt like he was the absolute right choice," general manager Mike Hazen said.
Lovullo, 51, who received a three-year contract, was the Red Sox's bench coach the past four seasons. He becomes the eighth manager in franchise history, replacing Chip Hale, who was dismissed after two seasons.
Lovullo only played for Francona for a few months during the 1999 season in Philadelphia, but it was enough to leave a lasting impression.
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Francona's influence, along with that of his mom, Lovullo thinks, is why he is able to communicate with players so well.
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"Maybe it was my mom's ability to relate to me on a feeling level," Lovullo said. "I can't exactly understand, but that might be the start of it. I can relate that to baseball when Terry Francona would come up and ask me what I was feeling, what I was thinking throughout the course of that play. He would just give me the chance to expose myself a little bit on a depth level. He made me feel comfortable and because of that, I knew that I was going to be able to go out and perform because I had a manager that was able to get me a little bit."
Lovullo inherits a team that vastly fell below expectations last season. Picked to compete for a postseason berth, the D-backs unraveled amid a host of injuries and underperformance to finish with a 69-93 record.
"I'm not going to get blinded by the fact that the team won 69 games," Lovullo said. "I'm more excited about the type of players we have here, the culture that we're going to try to set here -- from the dugout level, clubhouse level. We're looking for smart, tough baseball players that are fearless. We have those guys here. We have a number of those guys here. There's a great nucleus of players here."
Once Hazen was named GM, speculation immediately surrounded Lovullo, given the pair's history, which dates back to 2001 when both were in the Indians' organization before moving on to Boston.
Hazen watched Lovullo manage the Red Sox for seven weeks at the end of the 2015 season when manager John Farrell underwent treatment for lymphoma.
Lovullo interviewed last Monday, and after he and Phil Nevin became finalists, Lovullo had a second interview on Wednesday. On Friday, he was offered the job.
One of Lovullo's first tasks will be putting together a coaching staff. Pitching coach Mike Butcher, hitting coach Dave Magadan and first-base coach Dave McKay are the only coaches who have contracts for next season, though that does not guarantee they will return.
Third-base coach Matt Williams and assistant hitting coach Mark Grace will reportedly not return, while bench coach Glenn Sherlock and bullpen coach Garvin Alston had their contracts expire at the end of October.
"At this time, we haven't made any decisions," Lovullo said. "Things have been moving at a pretty fast pace for me. I think Mike and I are going to sit down and address that [soon]."
Lovullo will also try and reach out to as many of his current players as possible.
"I plan on meeting with several guys just so they can put a face to the name, let them ask some questions, and let them know that what they are thinking and what they are talking about matters," Lovullo said. "That's important to me. I think that's something that drives me every day. Part of communication is being an active listener. I just want them to know that I'm not sure what it was like here in the past, but what they're going to talk about and what they're thinking about is going to matter to me."
Steve Gilbert has covered the D-backs for MLB.com since 2001. Follow him on Twitter @SteveGilbertMLB.