Lovullo's lingo: A guide to skipper's vocab

March 11th, 2021

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Baseball managers meet with the reporters that cover their teams more often than any other sport and it's not even close.

D-backs manager Torey Lovullo is made available before and after every game starting with the first Cactus League game. That adds up to almost 400 sessions over the course of Spring Training and the regular season.

Aside from one game he missed due to illness and another due to suspension, Lovullo has never skipped a session with reporters.

Like everyone, Lovullo has unique phrases. With hundreds of his media sessions coming over the next six months, it seemed like a good time to provide a guide to some Torey-isms you're likely to hear:

Downhill baseball

This is how Lovullo describes when his team gets an early lead, which he believes gives a team valuable momentum.

Example: "David Peralta got the big hit for us there in the third to bring in a couple of runs, and that allowed us to play downhill baseball."

Note: This is the opposite of uphill baseball, which is what happens when the D-backs fall behind early.

Walking through

There are a lot of things that get walked through.

When the team is slumping: "We're walking through some tough times right now."

When there are decisions being made: "We're walking through how we're going to handle that."

The future: "We know it's going to be challenging and we're going to walk through it together."

You guys know who we're talking about

When there are several candidates for a spot start, or to make the team out of Spring Training or get called up and Lovullo gets asked about it, he doesn't want to go into all the names because he risks leaving someone out or giving too much away. So instead, he says, "You guys know who we're talking about."

Another variation is: "You guys pay attention, you know what's going on." He uses this when he wants to credit the reporter for correctly assessing the situation without confirming the details.

We're very strategic here

This one is commonly used when it comes to why a guy might be playing against a particular starter or Lovullo chooses to alter the starting rotation based on upcoming matchups.

Lovullo does not want to give away the specific reason why -- maybe the numbers say a particular hitter's swing plane matches up well with an opposing pitcher. As a way around that, Lovullo will say, "As you know, we're very strategic in everything we do here …"

Not quite there

One of the reasons Lovullo is beloved by his players is his communication skills. Players can rest assured that if something is happening that involves them, they will hear about it directly from Lovullo before they read or hear about it elsewhere.

So, when a decision has essentially been made, but Lovullo has not made absolutely sure that the player(s) are aware of it, he says, "We're getting closer to having a decision, but we're not quite there."

Zero stimulus

This is when Lovullo refers to a conversation that takes place away from the heat of a game.

Example: When starter Caleb Smith was upset about getting taken out last year after a prescribed amount of pitches, Lovullo praised Smith's competitiveness and said that he knew he would be coming out in that situation -- "We had talked about it beforehand with zero stimulus."

Standing on stuff

This applies to pitchers who find a way to get out of a tough inning, or who don't get rattled when in a jam.

Example: "That was good to see from Luke [Weaver] there. He really stood on his stuff in the fifth."

Touching and feeling innings

This didn't apply as much last year, but when Lovullo first took over the team, he wanted to build the confidence of his starting pitchers, so he would encourage them to pitch deep into games.

Example: "I want the starters to touch and feel the seventh inning."

Telling stories

Lovullo believes he can tell a lot not so much from the words a player says to him, but how he says it or body language.

Example: "When I went to the mound to talk to him, the look on his face told me a good story, so I decided to leave him in."

Neutral corner

Lovullo likes to reach for the occasional boxing metaphor when his team faces a tough challenge or is slumping.

Example: "When we get punched in the mouth early, I want these guys to stagger to a neutral corner, gather themselves and then come back to the center of the ring, gloves up, ready to go again."

Syracuse zone defense

This is Lovullo's go-to line when The Arizona Republic's Nick Piecoro follows up on a question that Lovullo won't answer by asking the same question, phrased slightly differently. It's a reference to the famed zone defense developed by longtime Syracuse hoops coach Jim Boeheim.

Example: "You're throwing the Syracuse 2-3 matchup zone defense at me there, Nick …"