Manager Torey Lovullo, Diamondbacks shake off World Series pain, work to make it back to October

Wed, Feb 14, 2024
MLB News (AP)

Manager Torey Lovullo, Diamondbacks shake off World Series pain, work to make it back to October

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. (AP) - Torey Lovullo watched on television as San Francisco 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan trudged off the field following last weekend's Super Bowl, crestfallen that his team lost to the Kansas City Chiefs on the sport's biggest stage.

The Arizona Diamondbacks manager - 3 1/2 months off a World Series loss to the Texas Rangers - felt that pain.

"I've lived that," Lovullo said. "I know the heartache he had. By watching him, it told me a story. Might have told you guys a totally different story, but I think we're all in the same boat. We hurt for him."

Then Lovullo started thinking about Shanahan's season. From the outside, he had the perspective to see that the 49ers had every reason to be proud, even if they didn't reach their final goal.

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Suddenly, it dawned on Lovullo - he should give himself the same grace.

"Maybe that was the last thing I needed before coming here, so I could totally turn the page, and make sure that I was ready for today," Lovullo said.

The defending National League champion D-backs opened spring training on Wednesday, fresh off a stunning run through the playoffs that included series wins over the Brewers, Dodgers and Phillies. The sublime stretch ended in the World Series, where they lost to the Texas Rangers in five games.

Now the journey to try and make it back begins, though closer Paul Sewald said players aren't getting ahead of themselves.

"I don't think anyone here is thinking about getting back to the World Series - we're just trying to be the best team we can possibly be," he added. "Sure, it's our goal to win the World Series, but that's a long-term goal. You have to set a lot of short-term goals before you get to that long-term goal."

D-backs owner Ken Kendrick opened his wallet - at least a little - to try and build on last year's success. Arizona signed left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez to an $80 million, four-year deal, traded for veteran third baseman Eugenio Suarez and added slugger Joc Pederson a few weeks ago, bolstering a lineup that already includes unanimous NL Rookie of the Year Corbin Carroll.

The starting rotation looks formidable once again with All-Star Zac Gallen and Merrill Kelly at the top. Rodriguez will likely slide in at the No. 3 position while young pitchers Ryne Nelson, Brandon Pfaadt and Tommy Henry fight for the last two positions.

The D-backs still have a relatively young roster, but Sewald said the focus is different now that the team's tasted October success.

"A lot of guys used to get innings or at-bats just to see if they could develop," Sewald said. "But we're a team where no one is developing in the big leagues. We need results."

The division rival Los Angeles Dodgers spent more than $1 billion on free agents during the offseason, adding Japanese stars Shohei Ohtani and Yoshinobu Yamamoto. The Padres still have talent with Fernando Tatis Jr. and Manny Machado, and the San Francisco `Giants are less than three years removed from a 107-win season.

But as the D-backs proved last year, rising above that fray is possible.

Gallen said it was a short offseason, but that's a good problem to have for a franchise that lost 110 games in 2021.

"We tried to fit in vacations and do all our recovery in a short period of time," Gallen said. "But this is going to be the start of the standard for us. We have the feeling in this clubhouse that we should make the postseason every year. That's a goal we're striving for."

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AP MLB: https://apnews.com

DAVID BRANDT Sports Reporter based in Phoenix twitter mailto "
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