The Arizona Diamondbacks exceeded expectations this year as they advanced to the World Series after sneaking into the postseason as the No. 6 seed in the National League.
It marked the club’s first trip to the playoffs since 2017, which also happened to be Torey Lovullo’s inaugural season as Diamondbacks manager.
Prior to taking the helm in Arizona, Lovullo served as a coach for the Boston Red Sox from 2013-2016. His stint in Boston overlapped with Mookie Betts’ first three big league seasons.
After the pair competed against each other in the NL Division Series, Betts had an opportunity to sit down with Lovullo before Game 4 of the World Series as a correspondent for MLB. Lovullo credited Betts for teaching him how to have delicate conversations with his players, via MLB on Fox:
“Getting here was really hard for me to digest, because part of my heart was still in Boston. I needed to transition out of that as quickly as possible. I started to get invested here through early conversations. These guys, the year before in ’16, didn’t have a good year and I think they were looking for somebody to align with them and empathize with them.
“You taught me how to have that conversation, and it was OK. You’re in a big league dugout and you’re supposed to be macho and tough. But you showed me that you were vulnerable in the dugout, and I brought that type of a conversation to these guys, and it meshed.”
Lovullo just completed his seventh season as Diamondbacks manager and has led the team to a 495-537 record during the span. The Diamondbacks extended Lovullo’s contract through the 2026 season.
The team’s surprising run to the Fall Classic included sweeps of the Milwaukee Brewers and Los Angeles Dodgers in the NL Wild Card Series and NLDS, respectively.
The Diamondbacks then went on to eliminate the Philadelphia Phillies in the NL Championship Series, which included winning Games 6 and 7 on the road.
Arizona’s magical season came to an end when they were defeated by the Texas Rangers in five games in the World Series.
Torey Lovullo shares close friendship with Mookie Betts
When the Dodgers and Diamondbacks met in the NLDS, Betts crashed Lovullo’s session with reporters to give him a hug prior to Game 1.
“I love Mookie Betts. I love him like my own child. I think we have a very unique bond that we both understand,” Lovullo said.
“I cheer for him and pull for him professionally and personally. We stay in contact throughout the course of the year, mostly via text, and I pridefully watch him in his success. There’s just a mutual level of respect and admiration. Once we get between the white lines, though, it’s on.
“It’s all about competition and I get the front row seat to watch him compete, and I love that. But that relationship and friendship means more to me than people might even have a clue about. For him to walk in here, that’s the norm for he and I.
“I watched him grow up. I think he said something along the lines, He raised me.’ I watched him grow up. We had a lot of good conversation along the way about what it took to be a Major League player, what it took to be a consistent Major League player.
“And I think at the time when he was 21, 22 years old, had his sights on being a Hall of Fame player. That’s what he used to talk to me about. And he’s on his way.”
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