If you’re searching for a microcosm of the impact Sen. John McCain had on sports in Arizona, look no further than the effect he had on Diamondbacks manager Torey Lovullo in the short time the two knew one another.
Lovullo is in just his second season in Arizona after coming from Boston as bench coach for the Red Sox. Still, Lovullo has been touched by the support of McCain, who died Saturday due to complications from brain cancer.
“That was terrible news; I got that news in the middle of the game,” Lovullo said after Saturday’s 4-3, extra-inning loss. “I had a couple of interactions with him. He was a tremendous man and a tremendous leader. He represented the state of Arizona proudly and he’s going to be missed.”
The Diamondbacks honored McCain with a video tribute and moment of silence before Sunday’s game and by hanging a Diamondbacks jersey in the dugout bearing McCain’s last name and the number 18.
They aired a video tribute before the fifth inning of Saturday’s game as the honored former and active military members on the Jumbotron. Lovullo said he was notified of McCain’s death about two minutes before the tribute took place.
McCain, a six-term U.S. senator, was a regular attendee of Diamondbacks games and other pro sports events in the Valley.
“John McCain has always been a member of the D-backs’ family and was one of this team’s biggest fans since day one,” Diamondbacks President and CEO Derrick Hall said in a statement. “He was in attendance at the expansion draft, the World Series and countless other games, remaining a fan through thick and thin.
“I am honored to consider him a friend and we will miss seeing his smiling face in the stands and our heartfelt thoughts go out to his entire family.”
Lovullo said that McCain invited his family and the rest of the Diamondbacks to take a tour of the capitol building in Phoenix last year.
“I was honored to be in his presence and he should be very proud of what’s going on here today and what his legacy has left,” Lovullo said. “It’s my understanding that he was very impactful in helping this organization find its landing spot. I was proud to get to know him and he should be proud that we’re heading in the right place.
“I can still see him in the front row last year, cheering us on at various times.”
Godley putting in work
Right-hander Zack Godley, who has struggled this season in throwing to the bases, was out on the field for early work on Saturday.
Godley was working with pitching coach Mike Butcher and bullpen coach Mike Fetters on making throws to first and third base.
“That’s what we do as coaches. We support, we teach, we enrich every situation we possibly can,” Lovullo said. “Every coach is rallying around him right now to ensure that he executes a quality game plan.”
Lovullo had said the coaching staff would further examine the issue after an errant throw to third base in Friday’s loss to the Seattle Mariners.
“If there are limitations in the areas that I know everyone is referencing,” Lovullo said, “we’re going to find a way to take care of those limitations.”
- Right-hander Zack Greinke passed Dennis Eckersley on the all-time strikeouts list with his first punch-out during Sunday’s game. Greinke now sits alone at 44th all-time.
- First baseman Paul Goldschmidt eclipsed the 30-homer plateau with a three-run blast on Sunday. He secured his fourth season with the Diamondbacks with at least 30 home runs, the most in franchise history.
When recognizing former and active military members, the Diamondbacks also honored Sen. John McCain on the Jumbotron Saturday.
Katherine Fitzgerald, The Republic | azcentral.com
Richard Morin covers the Coyotes and Diamondbacks for azcentral sports. He can be reached at [email protected] and by phone at 480-316-2493. Follow him on Twitter @ramorin_azc