Trivino embracing role as bullpen 'vet'
MESA, Ariz. -- Lou Trivino grew accustomed to being the young reliever in Spring Training seeking advice from the grizzled veterans who occupied the A’s bullpen. Now established, that role has reversed for him.
With experienced relievers like Yusmeiro Petit, Sergio Romo and Jake Diekman now gone, Trivino has evolved into the elder statesman of Oakland’s relief corps. The 30-year-old right-hander is now the bullpen’s longest-tenured member.
“It’s crazy. It’s nonsense,” Trivino said of the development. “I still feel like I’m the rookie. Went from a very vet bullpen last year to now I’m the vet.”
Trivino can still vividly remember being a wide-eyed rookie during his first big league camp with the A’s in 2018. As the years went by, he learned how to handle himself at the highest level by closely watching how Petit, Blake Treinen and Liam Hendriks went about their business.
Entering 2022, Trivino is one of just a few A’s pitchers with a relief role locked down. How the rest of the bullpen gets filled out is an open competition this spring, with several of the players vying for a handful of open slots relatively inexperienced at the Major League level. Many of those competing pitchers have already come to Trivino in search of guidance.
It’s a leadership role Trivino, who's entering his fifth big league season, didn’t expect to come this soon, but one he embraces.
“I was in their shoes,” Trivino said. “I’m just trying to help those guys any way I can to succeed in the big leagues. It’s not easy. It’s really hard to stay. If I can have any type of advice for them, I’m there for them. But there’s a lot of talent down there.”
Some leaders are vocal. Others lead by example. If Trivino were to pick a leadership style, it would likely be the latter. It makes sense, considering that one of his biggest influences in recent years was Petit, who despite being a man of few words, garnered the respect of teammates and coaches.
“Leading isn’t just being a rah-rah guy,” Trivino said. “Yus, I was with him for four years. He didn’t speak a whole lot. When he spoke, you listened. But I watched him go about his business. We had so many guys that didn’t have to say anything to me. I just watched what they did.”
A’s pitching coach Scott Emerson has monitored Trivino’s development since his rookie season. Having watched the growth in the right-hander’s maturity with each Spring Training that goes by, Emerson noted that the reliever’s confidence and willingness to share his opinion should serve him well as he moves up the bullpen hierarchy.
“Lou is a great professional,” Emerson said. “He comes to work every day and works hard in the weight room. Works hard on his mechanics. I’m sure that’s going to rub off on the rest of the guys, especially when they start looking at him.”
The respect is often amplified when that leader also happens to be the closer, a role Trivino said he expects to fill once again this season. His first season as Oakland’s closer in 2021 brought major highs and lows. After a dominant first half, he lost the job and later regained it near season’s end. Still, his overall numbers were solid, recording 22 saves with a 3.18 ERA across 71 appearances.
Who begins the year as closer remains under wraps. However, A’s manager Mark Kotsay mentioned that Trivino’s track record does give him a leg up on the competition.
“When we put this roster together, we’ll try to identify roles,” Kotsay said. “But [Trivino] obviously has the most experience on the roster closing games, so it seems like he would be ahead of the curve.”
Relocating to Florida this offseason, Trivino spent the winter working out at Cressey Sports Performance. One main focus of his training was correcting a flaw in his delivery from last season.
“I wasn’t consistently finishing over my front side,” Trivino said. “I was kind of falling off. This year, I feel like the ball is coming out well. I have command of all my pitches. I feel good so far.”
The improvements seem to be working, at least so far in Spring Training. Through three Cactus League outings, Trivino has given up no runs and allowed just three hits and one walk with five strikeouts.
“I feel better than I did last year already,” Trivino said. “ It’s just getting live reps, because you can’t replicate that in the offseason. But I’m ready to start going.”