The 2017 Diamondbacks have gotten off to their best start in years under the direction of manager Torey Lovullo and a reunification of the players.
With the All-Star Game behind the team, Lovullo is entrenched in the second half of the season, preparing for a possible postseason run.
“Everything has been going as well as we had hoped,” Lovullo says. “It was exciting for us to get off to the start we did. It kind of validated what we did in Spring Training, how we prepared for the season.
“Things have continued from that point on. I’m very proud of the guys and very pleased with how it’s been happening since the first day of the season.”
A first-time manager, Lovullo says the players are getting along well and that is contributing to the remarkable season.
“I think the common denominator of things was that (last season) got off to a bad start,” he says. “They were unable to recover, whether it be from injuries or performances that were below average. It resulted in a poor season.
“This year, the guys have jelled, cared for one another and relied on one another on a pretty impressive level. It’s become a very family-oriented atmosphere around our clubhouse.”
As a bench coach with the Boston Red Sox from 2013 to 2016, Lovullo was clued into what he may encounter. He was appointed D-backs manager in November.
“I knew from playing the Diamondbacks last year in interleague while in Boston, there were some good players here,” he says. “I just didn’t know how good they were. I was pleasantly surprised by their willingness to learn, their fearless applications of the concepts that I laid down in Spring Training, and their overall ability to go out and perform every single night.
“Those are things I was hoping for, but you don’t know until you get next to the guys. I wasn’t sure what they were going to be like.”
Although the Diamondbacks have an above-.500 season, there is always room for improvement.
“Offensively, we’ve had a very, very good year,” he says. “I think there are some downcycles when we face elite pitching. That happens from time to time. I think offensively, we just have to maintain our approach—good times and bad.
“I can’t pinpoint one thing we have to target and say we have to improve. I really believe in what we have here each and every day. There are always small little tweaks and turns that we can make. We do that every day no matter what the circumstances are.”
The result of a winning season is an increased fanbase. The July 1 game, during which State Forty Eight T-shirts were given away to the first 20,000 fans, was a sellout.
“We really get excited when fans come out,” Lovullo says. “We represent the state of Arizona the best that we can. We’re proud to represent. We know we have to earn fans back because of last year’s record.
“Hopefully, as we continue to perform and do our job at the level we are right now, they’ll come out to support us, and continue to support us. We’ve had very large crowds for a few of the games. I could feel the energy falling out of the stands. Our guys love that and appreciate those moments.”
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