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Lovullo ready for 2021: 'We're a good team'

@SteveGilbertMLB
December 14, 2020

PHOENIX -- While Major League Baseball’s 2020 postseason produced many thrilling moments, D-backs manager Torey Lovullo did not enjoy them all that much. “I was pretty bitter for the first several weeks of the offseason watching the postseason,” Lovullo said. That’s because Lovullo was still trying to come to grips

PHOENIX -- While Major League Baseball’s 2020 postseason produced many thrilling moments, D-backs manager Torey Lovullo did not enjoy them all that much.

“I was pretty bitter for the first several weeks of the offseason watching the postseason,” Lovullo said.

That’s because Lovullo was still trying to come to grips with the way his D-backs played during the 60-game regular season, including a 20-game stretch in which they went 2-18.

Though they improved down the stretch, the D-backs, who came into the year expecting they would play in the postseason, instead finished last place in the National League West.

“It was tough,” Lovullo said. “It was a really tough pill for me to swallow. We didn’t hit the ground running. We didn’t have a great start, we had a 20-game stretch where we didn’t play good baseball, and that cost us.”

Time has given Lovullo more perspective, and he has begun to regroup with his coaching staff to figure out what they can do better in 2021.

“What I wanted to do was unpack [the season] the right way,” Lovullo said. “I didn’t want to just run over it. I sat quietly, eating ice cream and watching baseball games. I absorbed it. We kind of stepped away from one another for a period of time and now are slowly coming back together and informing our thoughts moving forward on how to have a better season in 2021. We’re a good baseball team, we’re a good organization with good baseball players. I want that to shine through next year.”

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Lovullo retained his entire coaching staff for 2021. It was not a decision made without careful thought. At his press conference two days after the end of the season, Lovullo said he had not yet determined what direction he was going to go.

After taking time to look at the process rather than the result, he made his choice.

“They were grinding every single day,” Lovullo said. “We hurt after every one of our losses. We were trying to figure out what it was going to take to get better. I never saw one coach shut down. That’s one of my demands, that they go out there and teach with energy and passion, and they did the entire year. So, for me, it was a no-brainer. I wanted to bring every coach back.”

Hitting coach Darnell Coles has already begun reaching out to players, Lovullo said, giving them information on what the organization saw from them in 2020 and how they can refine their approach in '21.

After having Ketel Marte play mainly second base in 2020, it’s beginning to sound like the team may go back to how things were in '19 when he split time between second and center field. A lot depends on whether the team adds a center fielder or second baseman during the offseason.

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“I don’t know that answer right now,” Lovullo said. “I know he’s dynamic enough to play second and center. In my conversations with him, I know he wants to do what’s best for the Arizona Diamondbacks and what’s best for us to win baseball games. If I had to take a shot in the dark right now, I’d say it’s going to be a combination of both, but those things can change based on personnel.”

Steve Gilbert has covered the D-backs for MLB.com since 2001. Follow him on Twitter @SteveGilbertMLB.