Wide-open competition in D-backs' bullpen

February 17th, 2019

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- With the D-backs seemingly set to carry 12 pitchers to open the season, there will be seven relievers who make the Opening Day roster.

You can pretty much pencil in , , , and .

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As for those final two spots, good luck trying to figure that out just yet. In fact, manager Torey Lovullo has even declined to narrow it down to who could be in contention for those spots.

"I'm telling everyone [in camp] that they're candidates," Lovullo said.

Slowing 'em down

The D-backs had a meeting Saturday to reinforce the importance of limiting the running game and some of the strategies they will employ.

"It's a very important piece of this game," Lovullo said. "I thought it was a much-needed and well-timed meeting so these pitchers understand what our priorities are here."

For Arizona, it's not just about throwing runners out, but about keeping them from even trying in the first place.

Last season, teams attempted 93 stolen bases against the D-backs. In the National League, only the Cardinals had fewer stolen bases attempted against them with just 60.

"We limited attempts on stolen bases," Lovullo said. "And I felt like guys were executing pitches. We have a program, we have a system that [quality-control coach] Robby Hammock works very hard on."

Senior leader in town

Entering his third season at the helm, Lovullo is the most-tenured manager/head coach of all four major sports teams in Arizona.

So when the NFL's Arizona Cardinals hired Kliff Kingsbury as their head coach last month, Lovullo sent him a congratulatory text.

"I feel like I might have the most tenure here with some of the head coaches, so I felt it was my responsibility to welcome him to the Valley," Lovullo said.

The two met in person for the first time Friday night at a charity event.

"I finally got the chance to meet him last night," Lovullo said Saturday. "We talked shop as head coaches do and just compared notes."

As a former UCLA baseball player, Lovullo jokingly said his favorite thing about Kingsbury is the way he left the University of Southern California to take the head job with the Cardinals.