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December 10, 2019
San Diego, California
Q. Torey, Zac Gallen, why is he as good as he is?
TOREY LOVULLO: I think he has obviously the great mound presence and good starting points and sharp stuff, very sharp stuff. The ball takes off at different angles at different times late in the hitting zone, and he's willing to learn. He's willing to get ahead of things and figure out how to use that stuff to the best of his ability.
Great student. Trusts the coaching that he's getting and he wants to be great. He doesn't want to be just average. Still a young pitcher, a work in progress. Like I said, that great presence. Loves to get big outs. So once the game starts, loves to get the big out. He knows it's the most important time of the inning to stand on his stuff and goes out and gets big outs.
Q. Is he in the starting rotation pencilled in heading into Spring Training?
TOREY LOVULLO: Of course I would have to say that he's going to get some very, very strong consideration, considering that he came on board and pitched some really big games for us. We're 7, 8, 9 deep, and all those guys are going to get some strong consideration and they're going to be told where they stand when they come to Spring Training. I know that they're going to be ready to go, ready for the challenge.
We believe in the spirit of competition that's going to get the most out of guys. He's certainly somebody we're going to be counting on.
Q. Is he and the other guys who don't make the rotation on the cap bullpen candidates, or would you rather have them starting in Triple A?
TOREY LOVULLO: Very valid question. I think every organization has the 5 starters and then 6, 7, and 8 continuing to grow and learn. Starting baseball games in Triple A, I think that's extremely important. You're going to go down and get those guys, no doubt.
But when it comes time for the scrubbing of our team and we have those discussions, we will weigh all the answers and put the five best guys in the rotation, the next group of guys in the bullpen that are going to get big outs.
I wouldn't say anybody that doesn't make it is going to be sent to the bullpen. We're going to follow our strategy we have used in the past couple of years.
Q. Assuming you find a center fielder like you want to do, your infield is set. How do you see Jake Lamb fitting in the mix?
TOREY LOVULLO: Given a certain set of circumstances, looks as if (indiscernible) is going to be looked at as somebody that is going to be a primary second baseman. We will have flexibility with Jake, and much like we were doing last year toward the back end of the year where he would play third base and we would maximize match-ups based on the guys that we had, he was just too important of a bat to not have in our lineup.
I think that will be the same consideration he will get this year. I don't want to predict anything. I don't know the shape of it. It's all hypothetical right now given A, B, or C scenario. Jake Lamb is a good baseball player. He's had huge years. That doesn't happen by accident. Coming off of that injury, I think he's finally responded to his own personal challenges to come out the other end. I think we saw this in '19. And we need Jake, we count on Jake. With his production we can be in a special spot.
Q. How do you feel about going to Mexico for a series?
TOREY LOVULLO: I'm super excited about that. I love those types of travel, internationally especially, and we're connected to that community. Getting a chance to go down there last spring was exciting for me, and I know the team will get an opportunity to go down there as a whole and play some meaningful baseball games. Not just a Spring Training game. It's a real season game. It's going to count, and we're going to take it very seriously.
Being able to go there and extend to that community and get in that environment is going to be exciting for me, and the guys are excited about it as well.
Q. Given what they have gone through the last couple of years, how hard was it for you to say goodbye to (no microphone.)
TOREY LOVULLO: Those are tough conversations. I got a chance to talk with both those guys, and this game is crazy. At some point maybe our careers will intersect again, but for the time being, we had to make very tough decisions. Both guys understood what was going on and the reason for it, and I was connected to both guys emotionally.
They invested a lot of time and effort to get healthy and come in here, and it just didn't work out for a couple of years. I know that was painful for them, and I wanted to make sure I thanked them for that time and that dedication. It's an opportunity that's going to be placed in front of them, that they've got to go out and capture with another organization right now.
I think they're both excited about their future, but it was hard to say goodbye to those guys. I was able to lay my heart out there to them, tell them what they meant to me personally and what they meant to the organization, and we said our good byes.
But this game is crazy where you cross paths a lot. And hopefully they land on their feet. Maybe we work together in the future. I don't know.
Q. With more than two months into Spring Training, how do you assess the needs of this club?
TOREY LOVULLO: I think they're fairly obvious. We're trying to solidify some open spots in the outfield. I think those are some of the needs that Mike and I are talking about. I just trust the front office. I trust the front office and know that they're going to be diligent going out and putting the best 26 guys on that roster at the right time of the year for me to go out and manage baseball games.
I think that's a little bit of what we're focused on right now. It's obvious. We don't have a ton of outfielders on our 40-man roster, so it's obvious to say that's the big need for us.
Q. There is a couple of Japanese outfielders available. Are you interested? I know you can't say you're interested, but...
TOREY LOVULLO: Right, right.
TOREY LOVULLO: Yeah. You know, we're very well versed on what's happening domestically and internationally. We have a great group of -- a great leadership group that is dialed into what's going on in Japan, and Jerry Porter I know is watching that very closely.
There are certainly some names that have been thrust in front of us that are on the international market, but nothing has been determined. Nothing has been decided at this point. But there are some exciting players out there that we're aware of.
Q. How much do you want Hirano to come back?
TOREY LOVULLO: Hirano? I can't say enough good things about what Yoshi brought to us. He was somebody I counted on in meaningful moments with runners on base. He was unphased by the high-pressure situations. He got some big outs. I know that decision is yet to be made by him as to where he's going to be, and I know that he still has some baseball left in him. I wish him nothing but the best.
Having Yoshi with us for the past two years was a great luxury that I had late in the ball game, and I took advantage of that as often as I possibly could.
Q. Speaking of late innings and ball games, if you had to start the year today would Archie be your closer?
TOREY LOVULLO: I think I said it at the end of the year. I can't remember exactly how I categorized it, but I like to have a closer in place by the end of Spring Training for the simple reason everybody falls in behind and roles are set up and established.
Over the past three years we had the traditional closer that wanted to pitch the last inning, and he was going to be effective for those last three outs. I don't know if that's the case this year. We might ask somebody to get four outs from time to time, and I like that part of Archie. He's able to go one plus.
It's a nice starting point for me knowing that he closed out 19 games last year and he got a little taste of that and enjoyed it. It's a good starting point for me right now, but we're going to bring some guys in and guys are going to be coming back. We want to create competition, and that's what it's all about for me in Spring Training. We want to watch guys perform, but whoever gets it is going to have to earn it.
Q. What's the reason for instead of just one inning now, more...
TOREY LOVULLO: More one plus?
TOREY LOVULLO: Talking to the guys, and I'm going back to Fernando and Then Box, and I know Greg wanted to pitch more than one inning, but I think their preference was they wanted to start that ninth inning, and if needed, they will go more than that. But their preference was to start that ninth inning.
That was just me talking to them and getting their particular preference. But Archie will take the baseball, and we have seen him do it. He will take the baseball and go as long as he can.
Q. Archie has proven himself, but are you comfortable -- if it's left to this kind, of relying on Kevin Ginkel and Lopez in leverage roles with regard to how they performed last year?
TOREY LOVULLO: I love those guys you mentioned, and Johan cutting his teeth at the Minor League level is going to make him better this year. He's no longer a rookie. He's no longer going to throw the fastball by people. He's starting to figure things out.
There were times he learned this year, and he realizes it's a tough league and you've got to go able to throw the ball exactly where you want. He learned. I'm anxious to see where he comes into camp. Kevin Ginkel, I think we had a great September because of him. We closed up the gap and won 85 baseball games, and he was a large reason for the success we had late in the year.
So I don't know how they're going to -- I feel good about them. I don't know how they're going to stack up. I know with Gureto (phonetic) on board I'm super excited to get a chance to talk with him. Haven't had a chance to connect with him, but we're going to have an assortment of guys back there at the back end of the game that I can choose from.
I don't know how it's going to play out, but I feel comfortable with just about everybody we have in place right now.
Q. There are a lot of catchers on the free market right now. You guys were quick to move on Alex Avila. What do you think about him?
TOREY LOVULLO: Alex had leadership skills and experience, and I turn to him and ask him questions about the game on a deeper level. So I value his opinion considerably throughout the course of the seasons that he spent with us. He handled the pitching staff. There was an ease to him. He was able to communicate and get his points across to the pitchers, in the right way that might have been stubborn in situations, and he had a great rapport with all of the pitchers out there.
Offensively he had a lean 2018, and I was a big fan and I felt like we wanted to go in another direction. I'm happy that Alex has landed on his feet, and I know he's going to help that team.
Q. How is Katel doing? How is his progress?
TOREY LOVULLO: He's doing well. He had the problem with his back and we had to shut him down. He has been sticking to the program. We've got a chance to look at him a couple of times. He's been up here and to Arizona to get examined by our trainers, and I don't think he's resumed baseball activities, but that's about to happen. He's about to get cleared shortly and get back to doing all that.
Unfortunate injury, but the hardest thing for him was to follow the program and shut it down, which he did.
Q. Is that more downtime for him than in a normal off-season?
TOREY LOVULLO: I think so. He's been getting after it the past couple of off-seasons. I've been seeing video, and would share information with me about how great he was doing off-season when he was down there managing and coaching. He's been laying low, but I know he's getting ready to ramp up and get going.
Q. Do you feel you guys need to be proactive about resting him going forward now that this is a known issue?
TOREY LOVULLO: Yeah. I blame myself for a few things, and we had to shut down Yoshi. I blame myself for that because I don't want anybody on my time to get banged up from overusage.
I think Ketel fell into that category. I became uneasy about taking him out of the lineup because of what he meant to our lineup, and there are days he should have had off in September that he told me he wanted to play and he needed to play because we were trying to chase something pretty special.
That was hard for me to take him out of the lineup. I need to be more proactive and protect. That was on me. I think I told you guys that, because I could have given him time off to recover.
Q. Speaking of Pipe, I know he's in the DR, but have you spoken to him about what you're expecting out of him, bench coach role, how you think that relationship will grow and build?
TOREY LOVULLO: Yeah. I think my relationship with him is extremely strong, and for that reason I felt like he would come in there and do a great job as a bench coach. I want him to be a manager one day, to learn and grow and get an opportunity to manage, because that's where his heart is. I think he's going to be a very good manager.
But there are things he has to learn, and I know he's going to pay attention and do the right things to help us today. But he has a unique ability to connect with all players in a pretty big way, and I love that interaction. You see how I am with the players. I want him to do the exact same thing and then continue to learn and grow inside the dugout with me. I'm going to rely on him. I have had a lot of conversation with him. We have exchanged information and ideas and thoughts and that will continue throughout the course of the year.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports