December 3, 2022

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'I love these players': Lovullo is D-backs' winningest manager

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PHOENIX — D-backs manager Torey Lovullo never saw it coming.

Standing in front of the home dugout following an 9-3 win over the Marlins that made him the winningest manager in franchise history, Lovullo was talking live on the postgame show when David Peralta and Nick Ahmed snuck up behind him and dumped an icy bucket of water on him.

It was just the first shower for Lovullo, who surpassed Kirk Gibson with win No. 354 in his 739th game as Arizona’s manager, and who had a special celebration with his team in the clubhouse after the game.

Peralta and Ahmed, who have been on the roster since Lovullo took over the D-backs in 2017, both said some words and Lovullo was then doused with a combination of beer, mouthwash and shaving cream.

“Yeah, Dave, he don’t miss a chance to give somebody a beer shower,” left-hander Madison Bumgarner said with a smile. “Your first walk, you get a beer shower. First hit, first double … he’s all about the beer shower.”

Bumgarner got the win for Lovullo on Tuesday, allowing a two-run homer in the first before shutting the Marlins down the rest of the way across 6 1/3 innings with five strikeouts.

The win was the seventh in the past eight games for the D-backs, who are now 10-4 over the past two weeks and have now clawed past the Rockies for fourth place in the NL West with a 17-14 record.

Tuesday night, though, the players wanted to talk about the manager they love playing for.

“It’s been a fun ride playing for him,” Peralta said. “I said it when I was talking, the way he came to this team and turned everything around and made this clubhouse a family room, that was amazing. He came with such a good attitude — which is positive and everything — and managers like that, you want to play for.

“The best part is knowing that he’s got our back and he knows we’ve got his back. … I think as players, we really appreciate that. The way he’s running this team, that’s why players feel that good energy and say, ‘I want to play for him, I want to play hard for him.’ You always want to play hard, but when you’ve got that extra motivation from your coaching staff, from your manager, that’s the best.”

Lovullo took over the D-backs after a 2016 season in which they lost 93 games and they jumped to 93 wins and a Wild Card berth in his first season.

They were competitive for a playoff spot in the two years after that before bottoming out with 110 losses in 2021.

General manager Mike Hazen and his staff showed their faith in Lovullo by extending his contract toward the end of last season, guaranteeing his deal for 2022 and adding a club option for 2023. During the offseason Lovullo revamped almost his entire coaching staff and after a 3-8 start to the season, he has the D-backs back on track.

One of Lovullo’s greatest strengths as a manager is his ability to build relationships and communicate with his players. That’s why what Peralta and Ahmed said postgame had such an impact on him.

“Those words mean more to me than anything,” Lovullo said. “David and Nick both spoke up and we’ve been together a long time, right? So they know me. They know my words. They know every part about me. But they know really what my beliefs are and some of the things that they said I’ll never forget. I love these players and I love this organization.”

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