Why Lovullo made a trip to the Dominican Republic

December 8th, 2022

This story was excerpted from Steve Gilbert's D-backs Beat newsletter. To read the full newsletter, click here. And subscribe to get it regularly in your inbox.

D-backs manager Torey Lovullo visited the Dominican Republic for the first time last month and came away with an even greater appreciation for the passion that the country has for baseball.

While there, Lovullo got to visit the D-backs Academy and spend time with second baseman and shortstop .

"I spent an afternoon, half of a day with Ketel," Lovullo said. "It was great to see him. He looked very healthy. I watched him go out and work out. Ketel is going to be ready to go. He's super excited, and it was great to spend quality time with him."

Lovullo also spent time with the organization's international scouts in the area. The D-backs' efforts in Latin America are headed up by Junior Noboa, whom Lovullo called "an unbelievable host."

"I went to Perdomo's house," Lovullo said. "Got to spend time with his mom. It was a pretty enriching experience for me."

While it was partly a social call with Marte, Lovullo did have a message for the 29-year-old.

With the new rule limiting defensive shifts next year, Lovullo talked to all his infielders at the end of the regular season about spending plenty of time during the offseason working on their agility, because they will have to cover more ground in 2023.

"We want to create a very athletic infield that can cover ground, and we're going to ask our guys to go out and -- I already have asked our guys to go in and prepare themselves from the waist down if you're an infielder, because you're going to have to go out and get the job done on a much bigger scale," Lovullo said.

While conditioning has never been an issue for Marte, it seems like he had focused on strength in the past, in order to drive the ball more at the plate.

That, Lovullo said, has taken away from his defensive range, and it's something the D-backs would like to see him improve on.

"The data showed he wasn't covering as much ground," Lovullo said. "I think our eyes were telling us the same story. I know you guys have had questions about his defensive ability. It did change over the past couple of years, but I think he ended up getting a little bit more offensive, which was a nice tradeoff in certain situations. I think for us to win inches and do what I expect us to do defensively, we need to have every infielder, including Ketel, be as dynamic as possible with their left and right movements to cover that ground."