Red Sox bench coach, Twins meet again on managerial opening
By Mike Berardino St. Paul Pioneer Press MINNEAPOLIS -- Next season will mark Dick Berardino's 48th consecutive year in the Boston Red Sox organization. A former big-league coach and longtime minor-league manager now serving as a player-developme...
By Mike Berardino
St. Paul Pioneer Press
MINNEAPOLIS - Next season will mark Dick Berardino’s 48th consecutive year in the Boston Red Sox organization.
A former big-league coach and longtime minor-league manager now serving as a player-development consultant, Berardino has seen plenty of managerial prospects rise and fall during his long tenure.
Torey Lovullo, however, is the real deal, he says.
“I like him a lot,” Berardino, 77, said Monday of the Red Sox bench coach. “Personality-wise, he handles himself well with players. He’s well respected. He’s done just about everything in this game. I think he’s ready to manage in the big leagues. His time has come.”
According to a person with direct knowledge, Lovullo, 49, was granted a second interview Monday for the Twins’ managerial opening. He joins in-house candidates Paul Molitor and Doug Mientkiewicz among those known to have had multiple interviews with general manager Terry Ryan in the wake of Ron Gardenhire’s firing on Sept. 29.
Berardino, who isn’t in daily contact with Lovullo during the offseason, provided a glowing scouting report on the former utility infielder, who spent parts of eight seasons in the majors with seven different clubs, plus another season in Japan.
After retiring as a player, Lovullo managed for nine seasons in the minor leagues (2002-10), the last of those with Triple-A Pawtucket in the Red Sox chain. Lovullo has coached under John Farrell the past four seasons, two as a first-base coach with the Toronto Blue Jays before moving into his current role for the World Series championship season of 2013.
“As a bench coach, you put out fires when you see them starting,” Berardino said. “Torey is somewhat of a no-nonsense guy. He has a way about him. There’s a firmness about him, but it’s something he camouflages very well. People on the outside may think, ‘Oh, he’s just a nice guy,’ but the players understand it.”
Nick Lovullo, Torey’s son, is a junior middle infielder at Holy Cross, where Berardino played in the 1950s. That’s just one facet of their connection.
“Torey and I have had a lot of discussions,” Berardino said in a phone interview. “He’s an outstanding baseball guy. We’ve talked about different strategies - what’s done in the majors, what’s not done in the majors. We agree on a lot of different things about strategy.”
Considered a leading proponent of modern analytics, Lovullo has been charged with interpreting mountains of daily data and using it to help the Red Sox stand out in the use of defensive shifts, platoons and lineup combinations.
“It’s a different ballgame now with all the information,” Berardino said. “Torey is good with that. He’s worked with it. He understands it. He’s able to break it down. He’s embraced it in the right way.”
Lovullo, 49, played at UCLA and has a minor league managing record of 661-609 (.520). He was twice named his league’s manager of the year. He has interviewed for five previous big-league managing jobs (Dodgers, Mariners, Red Sox, Astros and Rangers) without success.
“Our organization has (analytics) people send down information all the time,” Berardino said. “Torey’s also the kind of guy to say, ‘Look, I appreciate that, but this is how I feel.’ You’ve still got to manage your own way. You can’t make decisions just because of certain statistics. There are too many variables, too many elements.”
Former reliever Bubbie Buzachero, who spent two seasons (2007-08) pitching for Lovullo in the Cleveland Indians system, saw many of those same traits at Triple-A Buffalo. Buzachero, who also played for former Texas Rangers manager Tim Bogar in the minors, recalls Lovullo fondly.
“He was one of my favorite managers to play for,” Buzachero said. “He wasn’t that far off from playing himself, so he was very easy to relate to for us as players. It was easy to get to know him. He did a great job of letting us be who we wanted to be.”
The Bisons went 75-67 under Lovullo in 2007, but dropped off to 66-77 the following year. Buzachero struggled to a 5.24 earned-run average that first year, when the Bisons had Shin-Soo Choo, but the closer nailed down 10 saves with a 3.14 ERA in 2008.
“Torey really just knew how to get the most out of his players,” Buzachero said. “He wasn’t a yeller-type guy. He’s still very competitive, but he struck a good balance. He knew how to push buttons when he needed to push them, knew the right time to pick his spots and kick us into gear, but he also was very personable.
“He has no ego in it at all. He’s always willing to learn and willing to ask his staff for input, which is very unique. In the position he was in, there can very well be an ego part: ‘This is my team. I’m going to run it as I want.’ But he wasn’t like that.”
Buxton injures finger
Hours after being named to the Arizona Fall League Fall Stars Game, Byron Buxton was removed from Monday afternoon’s game after jamming his right middle finger while attempting a diving catch.
Buxton was taken to the clubhouse in the late innings of a 3-3 tie at Salt River Fields. He was due to undergo an X-ray, according to his agent, Al Goetz.
Earlier, Buxton and fellow Twins prospect Jake Reed were selected to play in the Fall Stars Game, which will be televised live Saturday night on MLB Network.
There must be at least one representative from each organization, which has a strong say in which players are selected.
Reed, 22, is a hard-throwing reliever who has posted seven scoreless innings in Arizona, fanning seven. Including two minor-league stops this summer, Reed has allowed just one earned run in 38 professional innings for an ERA of 0.24.
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