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Lovullo sees Sox following Royals' example

KC's youthful core gives Boston's bench coach glimpse of what future may bring

BOSTON -- Of all the things that excite Red Sox bench coach Torey Lovullo about this World Series, the volume of power arms across the board is what sticks out.

"You have some of the best pitchers in baseball going against one another, more notably the New York Mets' starting rotation vs. the incredible bullpen of the Kansas City Royals," Lovullo said.

What Lovullo roots for most is a great series. But he admits he is pulling for the Royals.

"You have a team that's returning to the World Series, which you don't see that often today," said Lovullo. "There's a lot of curiosity from my standpoint to see if the Kansas City Royals can finally close that small gap and win the World Series. It's a talented group of players that's very young, that's played together, that came up through their system together for quite a long time now."

Though the Red Sox operate with a higher payroll than the Royals, they have similarly prioritized their cornerstone young players the last couple of years. The more successful the Royals are, the more hopeful the Red Sox become of how far their youthful core (Mookie Betts, Xander Bogaerts, Blake Swihart, Jackie Bradley Jr., Eduardo Rodriguez) might be able to take them in the coming years.

"That piqued my curiosity, because they kind of remind me of what we're doing right now," said Lovullo. "I'm probably pulling for the Royals. They're an American League team. They're a team that reminds me a lot of the way we play the game, and that's exciting."

Lovullo game-planned against the Mets as interim manager when the Red Sox went to New York at the end of August and faced Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom and Noah Syndergaard. It was actually a high point of the season for Boston, taking two out of three against a Mets team that was surging with momentum at the time.

"Well, those three guys are obviously very talented and they've carried the workload for the Mets all the way through the season, especially down toward the end of the year and more specifically into the playoffs," Lovullo said. "They're exciting, because they challenge the zone with their fastball. They are fearless with that strength. They have quality secondary stuff. They look to pitch late in the game. They all smell blood when they're on the mound, and they challenge the hitters."

The Red Sox played competitively against the Royals this season also, taking four out of seven.

"When we played them, [Greg] Holland was healthy, too. The toughest thing is the pressure they put on you, knowing that you had six innings to maneuver and stay out of that bullpen," said Lovullo. "I think that was one of the reasons why we had success against them is that we never let them get to that bullpen. They can also put together big at-bats and spark a big inning at any time."

Ian Browne is a reporter for
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