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Lovullo embracing second year at helm

D-backs manager expects a competitive camp
MLB.com @SteveGilbertMLB

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- This time last year, Torey Lovullo was still checking his roster as he moved between fields, trying to put names with faces in his first spring as D-backs manager.

Wednesday, as pitchers and catchers went through their first workout at Salt River Fields, Lovullo was far beyond the getting-to-know-you stage.

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- This time last year, Torey Lovullo was still checking his roster as he moved between fields, trying to put names with faces in his first spring as D-backs manager.

Wednesday, as pitchers and catchers went through their first workout at Salt River Fields, Lovullo was far beyond the getting-to-know-you stage.

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"It's more time for me to catch up [with guys] and dig right in, and start to challenge them quicker," Lovullo said. "It's a totally different year. Last year, I was kind of treading water."

The D-backs will not look to do any treading in 2018, as they hope to qualify for the postseason for a second straight season for the first time since 2001-02.

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"It doesn't mean that you can just go up to the starting line and run the race and expect to win," Lovullo said of last year's 93-69 National League Wild Card-winning team. "We've got to get back to who we believe and know that we are."

The starting rotation is set with Zack Greinke, Robbie Ray, Taijuan Walker, Patrick Corbin and Zack Godley, but there are at least two bullpen spots up for grabs, as well as determining who the closer will be between Brad Boxberger, Yoshihisa Hirano and Archie Bradley.

On the position-player side of things, Lovullo said the starting middle-infield spots are open, as well as a corner-outfield position.

In the infield, Brandon Drury, Nick Ahmed, Chris Owings, Ketel Marte and Daniel Descalso will battle for playing time at second and short. It's the same group as last spring, when Owings won the shortstop job and Drury became the starter at second.

Of course, both Owings and Ahmed suffered season-ending injuries, and Marte became the everyday shortstop over the final two months of the season.

"It's going to be competitive, as it was last year," Lovullo said. "That depth that we had last year saved us. Ketel Marte came up from the Minor Leagues and saved us."

Lovullo tiptoed around the outfield situation.

"I think a corner-outfield spot is available, and how we fill that, and who starts and who plays is going to be up for grabs," Lovullo said. "We have a lot of different parts that could go into it."

Video: Outlook: Pollock needs to stay healthy for '18 season

A.J. Pollock will once again man center field, and Lovullo said David Peralta is "a guy we are counting on."

With Peralta at one of the corners, it would seem that would mean Yasmany Tomas, who missed most of last year with core injuries, will have to battle for a starting spot.

"I don't want to get into that yet," Lovullo said, adding that he hasn't had a chance to talk to Tomas. "As soon as the position players come in, I'll get into that."

D-backs position players report Sunday, and the first full-squad workout is Monday.

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

Arizona Diamondbacks