Lovullo hopeful for a May return for MLB

SCOTTSDALE – Like the most of America society these days, the universe of Arizona Diamondbacks’ manager Torey Lovullo has come to a screeching halt. From daily visits to his workplace, not talking “shop” with his peers, no interaction with the media, no rustling of papers, no exchange of data and analytics and a total disconnect with the game of baseball, Lovullo sits at home and ponders.

Though not alone in this time of uncertainty, Lovullo’s journey’s is not an isolated case, nor unusual. While the skipper awaits word, like the rest of us, on the future of the game here in 2020, uncertainty hangs over the Arizona franchise, and all of baseball, like an unwelcome hangover from a college party.

“I’m doing things that everyone else in America is doing,” Lovullo said Tuesday afternoon during a conference call with reporters. “Watching TV, catching up on the news, playing cards with my wife, checking my phone and just about what everyone else is doing.”

While players are invited to use the Salt River facility, Lovullo was absent this week on Monday and Tuesday. Nursing an eye infection and caring for a family member who had tonsils removed, Lovullo pointed out that his presence is marginal. That’s because coaches and administrators are careful about scheduling players for workouts.

Because of the national criteria of having no more than 10 people assemble at any one location, players are coming to Salt River in groups of four or five, and carefully monitored for workout time. Before the next group arrives, the staff on site then makes sure the facility undergoes a deep cleaning.

“There is no prescribed schedule for players,” Lovullo added. “We’re not overextending any group. That’s because the health and safety of each player is our highest priority. From a player protection standpoint, we’re doing everything we are supposed to be doing.”

Like everyone else in the game, Lovullo is uncertain when play will resume. Some suggested the season will not begin until May, June or not at all. Then, the issues of the All-Star game, slated for Dodger Stadium in mid-July, format of post-season play, the trade deadline usually on July 31 and player transactions need to be resolved.

“We’re pulling for mid-May,” Lovullo said, sounding hopeful. “Right now, I feel like I’m playing hooky. We all have a bigger cause and I’ll do everything for my immediate family and for my baseball family.”

At this point, Lovullo said about half of the players remained in the Phoenix area and half returned home. There is no directive nor mandate for players to remain at Salt River and most theories hold players will need two to three weeks of intense preparation. That’s once Major League Baseball declares the emergency over and it’s back to business as usual.

All clubs contributing …

On Tuesday, all 30 major league clubs made a $1 million commitment each to game-day staff.

Most are hourly wage-earner who lose income during the emergency. The Diamondbacks’ contribution of $1 million was not detailed but communicated directly with the affected staff.

“I was happy hear about the commitment from all the clubs,” Lovullo said. “We may be adversaries on the diamond but we’re all partners and it’s great to see us all come together. This was a very bold statement from Major League Baseball.”

In case we were wondering …

This would have been the final week of spring training. Beginning Wed, March 18, the Diamondbacks would have had five dates remaining in Arizona spring sites and finish with a two-game set against the Chicago White Sox March 23 and 24 in Chase Field.

Should the season now be delayed until early June and provided the movers and shakers of the game pick up the schedule at that point, the Diamondbacks have a six-game home stand. That includes three with the Rockies on June 1-3 and three with the Padres, June 5-7.