We are 10 or 11 days into the “Lovullo Era” in Pawtucket. To the naked eye, the results on the field have been mediocre. But according to the PawSox new manager, things are just fine. “Things are moving well. I think we are still getting a feel for one another. Trying to figure what our major strengths are, what our weaknesses are, and address those weaknesses to get better each and every day. I’m very pleased, although we’ve lost a couple of leads late- two or three losses you turn into wins and we’re sitting right where we want to be in the standings. So, overall, I’m very pleased. We just have to learn some things. How to win on the road, finish games..we’re a young team, we’ll see things get better.”
Completelty understanding that development of players is his main job, Lovullo admits that the early struggles bother him. “It certainly does. We want to go out there and develop winning players. By in large, what we’ve done is go out there, get the right players the right amount of at bats, get some manuveurability in the infield. There are some young guys we’re trying to get ready for the eventuality of a big league callup. They’ve been playing all three infield positions. It’s a different environment you create. Much the same way, we’re trying to create and develop roles in the bullpen. I think that’s why at times we’ve had hiccups in the pen. We haven’t yet really defined roles for the guys because we’re mixing and matching so many things. Once we’ve had time to develop those roles, things will be much better.”
Win or lose, there is one thing that has pleased the skipper- “The effort. I think these guys are getting out and playing hard every single day. Yesterday, we went out and won a baseball game for a couple of different reasons. It’s great that we won 6-3, and that Fernando (Cabrera) walks off with the save. Angel Sanchez hustling down the line with two outs and beating the throw. We end up scoring two runs that inning on Josh Reddicks’ home run, when they (Rochester) should have been out of the inning. Little hustle moments like that, please me a whole lot. It’s been a collective effort. I can’t pinpoint one thing, but overall, I’ve been pleased.”
One thing you cannot control is April weather in the Northeast. Very often, it’s been cold, rainy or windy. Lovullo says that it takes some adjustment, especially after a couple of months in Fort Myers. “Very tough. You know, that first couple of days in Pawtucket, it was warm. We really got teased. It was tough going into Buffalo as it got chillier and chillier every day we were there. We get here to Rochester and it’s freezing. We know, as baseball players, it’s going to happen. The weather doesn’t miss anybody. It doesn’t just happen here in the minor leagues. No matter where you are as a player, you have to learn how to grind through it.”
Lovullo enjoyed his first trip of 2010, through his adopted home of Buffalo. A city where he excelled as both a player and as a manager. He did sound relieved to have that trip behind him. “It’s always great. I’m going home. I enjoy the time. I’ve learned to separate it though, in the time I’ve been going back as a manager. By the time pre-game starts, I’ve got all the personal stuff taken care of, because I’ve got a job to, go out and manage a bunch of young baseball players.” Torey was forced to explain why he didn’t join the rest of the staff as they dined at “Chefs'”, an Italian tradition in Buffalo. “I gave you the recommendation. I was going to join you guys, but my mother-in-law is a tough German woman. I went out with her that night. If I had missed that dinner, she would have never forgiven me”
I don’t often speak for Dan, but I know I can in this case. We dined the other night at “Sticky Lips”, a rib joint in Rochester. That may seem like blasphemy, when there’s a Dinosaur Barbecue in town. We tried it, and it was good. Shared an incredible appetizer- “Jacked up fried green tomatoes”. Laden with a mixture of crabmeat, cheese, and hot sauce…an absolute winner! The sides were great, as well. My favorite was grits mixed with cheese and chorizo. The ribs were very good, but not near the caliber of the “Dino’.