PHOENIX -- When he was named manager of the Arizona Diamondbacks last fall, Torey Lovullo talked about establishing a family culture and getting to know his players on a personal level. There would be trust built both ways, he claimed.
"I think every manager probably says that when they're hired," veteran infielder Daniel Descalso said. "But not all of them follow through on that."
Descalso and his teammates learned quickly that Lovullo meant what he said.
Early in the season, Lovullo failed to let Descalso know that he was going to be out of the lineup and a FOX Sports Arizona mic that he was wearing during batting practice caught the manager apologizing to Descalso while he shagged balls in the outfield.
Descalso told Lovullo not to worry about it, but Lovullo responded that Descalso had deserved better and that he would make sure it didn't happen again.
"It just seems like everything he says is genuine and you can take him at his word," Descalso said. "He's been very upfront with me personally throughout the whole year and there's nothing else you can really ask for. I think a lot of other guys would say the same thing, that he cares about each and every one of us and he's gone out of his way to get to know all of us.
"Lovullo spent his first few weeks on the job calling not just players, but also members of the team's support staff, to introduce himself and start the process of getting to know them.
When longtime equipment manager Roger Riley's mom passed away during the season, Lovullo had the whole team go together to the service even if it interfered with batting practice.
"Establishing a culture of togetherness and family and unity was the most important thing to me," Lovullo said. "I wasn't afraid to talk about the word love. You know, baseball and sports, you just -- we're very macho people, and we feel that, but we're afraid to talk about it. So you've heard me say the word love. I think that the guys use the word love, and I think that we've developed a really special bond. So that was the first thing that I set out to do through my own actions and my own relationships, and I think that the guys caught on. I'm proud of that, and I'm honored by that."
The results have been extraordinary, with the D-backs going from 69-93 last season to 93-69 with a roster that looks very familiar.
"It was quite a turnaround and it was what we were hoping for last year with the same group for the most part," D-backs team president and CEO Derrick Hall said. "A lot of good changes in the offseason, but I think the culture really showed the most impact and what Torey brought to this group -- believing in themselves, staying together, the unity and cohesiveness."
Here's a sampling of what Lovullo's players have to say about him:
Outfielder David Peralta
"I think the difference for us is communication, and the way he came to us in the beginning and said, 'Hey, we're just going to play as a team. We're going to be a big family.' He's communicated about whatever moves he's going to do and everything. I think we can appreciate that. He brings a lot of energy, good energy, good vibes, and that's good. You can feel it. As a whole team, you can feel it. That's why our clubhouse is more like a family room."
Outfielder A.J. Pollock
"If he tells you something, it's always going to be what's going on. He's never going to tell you something and do something else. He's very confident in what he's doing. I think that's pretty important when you have all sorts of things going on, and this guy is as steady as you get -- cool, calm, and collected. Yeah, he's awesome. We're really lucky to have him."
Catcher Chris Iannetta
"I think his communication has been second to none. I think his ability to stay even keel, no matter what's going on, I think has been a big key for us."
Pitcher Zack Godley
"We just really enjoy playing for him. He's just one of those managers that you want to go out every day and give everything you have for him. The communication is awesome and I think the trust he puts in us allows us to put the trust in him as well. That's a two-way street. He really put trust in me to go out there and give the team a chance to win, and with that the trust goes right back to him. I appreciated him putting that trust in me."
Steve Gilbert has covered the D-backs for MLB.com since 2001. Follow him on Twitter @SteveGilbertMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.