YOU’RE TOREY LOVULLO and, if what Hamlet said is true, that “the readiness is all,” then you will be the next manager of the Boston Red Sox.
Just ten months year ago you believed that you had a one-in-four chance to become the Red Sox manager, as did Philadelphia Phillies bench coach Pete Mackanin, Milwaukee Brewers hitting coach Dale Sveum and Cleveland Indians bench coach Sandy Alomar Jr.
During your year as manager of Boston’s AAA team in Pawtucket in 2010 you earned the reputation as a players’ manager with a good work ethic; although the PawSox were 66-78, the Red Sox said they thought highly of your skills both in terms of managing and developing players.
Your boss, John Farrell, manager of the Blue Jays offered enthusiastic support for you:
“Torey Lovullo is a leader.”
“His ability and willingness to listen, teach and communicate enable him to connect with many different types of people in order to build relationships.”
“He has a strong passion for the game itself and for the way in which it should be played. He has a keen understanding of the inner workings of the game to make good decisions as they relate to specific in-game situations.”
“These are reasons that he has been a successful minor league coach and manager before. I don’t see them changing and will serve him well in any capacity the game has to offer. He is a true professional.”
YOU’RE TOREY LOVULLO and it seemed that you had a real shot at living your dream; to be the manager of the Boston Red Sox:
“I can’t see a better place in this world to be the manager.”
After a “pre” interview with Ben at the GM meetings last November, he said:
“We think very highly of him. We wanted to use the interview to talk more about specifically about how he would do the job in the big-leagues in Boston, and he had some good ideas as to how to transition into that role.”
Then came the formal interview in Boston when GM Ben asked you about your values and standards as a human being, as a baseball manager, as a teacher.
Then Ben asked you to talk about your baseball philosophy, how you would organize your thoughts to run a team and how you would operate as manager of the Sox.
He asked you about how you would interact with your players.
Then he asked you to watch a few videos from the 2011 season and asked, if you were the manager, what moves would you have made.
YOU’RE TOREY LOVULLO and you were impressed by the Red Sox interview process and said: “I got a chance to sit down and tell them my philosophies that I believe in, and run them by some really good baseball people that I respect and know that are running a great organization,”
“Anytime you get put in that situation, you look at it as an opportunity to say thank you, first of all, it’s my time to really give you my ideals and show you I’m the right man for the job, and I appreciate that.”
You believed they were taking you seriously, until CEO Lucchino barged in with his pal Bobby Valentine and turned Cherington’s hiring process into a fool’s errand.
YOU’RE TOREY LOVULLO and you had been disappointed before.
When you began your decade-long career in Cleveland, Indians GM Mark Shapiro was supportive of your willingness to experience what the Indians’ system was like, from the bottom up with the goal of managing in the major leagues.
You believed you were holding up your part of the bargain, going from Columbus, Ga., to Kinston, N.C., to Akron, Ohio, to Buffalo and finally Columbus, Ohio.
You were twice named manager of the year in the Indians’ system; you were interviewed for the Dodgers’ job that went to Grady Little, and by the Pirates before they hired John Russell.
When manager Eric Wedge and his entire coaching staff were fired in 2009, after managing a total of 35 players in the minors, you appeared to be poised to become manager of the Indians.
YOU’RE TOREY LOVULLO and you had paid your dues: for eight years you climbed the rungs of the Cleveland Indians’ system. You followed the advice your dad passed along to you, which he borrowed from UCLA basketball legend John Wooden:
“Be quick, but don’t hurry.”
Then, the Indians hired Manny Acta, who had been fired by the Nationals earlier that season but had big league managing experience on his résumé and also appealed to the Indians because of his potential of reaching such key Latin players as Fausto Carmona and Jhonny Peralta.
You were shocked; you said “I thought I was finally in the right classroom and it was like all of a sudden they switched schools. It’s not that they didn’t feel I was good enough. Mark and I had long conversations about it. He expressed sorrow and wished me luck and said in a way he felt like he didn’t finish the job with me. It was not his fault. He apologized.”
“I worked a long time to get this opportunity.”
you told ESPNBoston.com after you interview with the Red Sox in November 2011:
“I had some great mentors and managers that I played for, gentlemen like John Farrell, who I have had a chance to work with that have helped me get this opportunity to sit down in this seat. I feel like I’m ready.”
“If I do get this opportunity I can assure you of one thing: I will be passionate and I will not be outworked. I will be prepared. I will try to set forth my vision with a team that will go out each and every day and give 100 percent of their effort,” Lovullo said.
YOU’RE TOREY LOVULLO and during your one season in the Red Sox organization , as the manager of the Triple-A Pawsox, you worked with Josh Reddick, Lars Anderson, Michael Bowden, Rich Hill and Jason Varitek and you learned, first-hand, about the meaning of Red Sox Nation.
YOU’RE TOREY LOVULLO and you never go out without double-knotting your shoes. It was a lesson you learned when you were a little kid at a basketball camp, when John Wooden told you that it was selfish to take time away from your team to re-tie your shoes.
Later, when you were pitching for UCLA, Wooden taught you the lesson of pride. Just after a win over arch-rival USC, you were waiting in uniform in line at Pioneer Chicken and the voice of an elderly gentleman asked how the team had done. You answered, Torey “We beat USC,” and realized it was Coach Wooden.
He said: “Congratulations young man…and remember, those four letters across your chest have got to mean something to you. Every time you can, you beat those Trojans.”
Then there was the less of patience and self-control and understanding that baseball is raw energy and power executed gracefully.
Your dad would constantly say to you: “Be quick Torey, but don’t hurry.” You recall that he must have said it about 10,000 times. It wasn’t until I was about 18 when you opened up a book of John Wooden’s most famous quotes that I discovered that he was the man who came up with, ‘Be quick, but don’t hurry.’ You smile and remember that for all of those years, you thought your dad was brilliant.
YOU’RE TOREY LOVULLO and you had two decent years as a player.
You played for the AAA Columbus Clippers in 1991 and 1992, when they were the International League champions in both seasons; in 106 games in 1991 you batted .271 with 10 HR and 75 RBI; 1992 you appeared in 131 games for the Clippers, batted .295, had 19 HR and 89 RBI.
You will always remember that Sunday night in Anaheim, April 25, 1993, when you hit a home run off Roger Clemens; you explained: “He’s a power pitcher, so I knew what was coming, I got out in front of it, and he supplied most of the power.”
But, until you become a manager in the majors you will always be remembered as the guy that Sparky loved; the one that was over-hyped, who failed.
After an excellent spring training in 1989, Sparky touted you as “the finest young player I’ve seen since Johnny Bench.”
Sparky persuaded the Tigers to trade Brookens to the Yankees to make room for you at third base. Then Sparky moved you to First, a position he had never played before, promised you 500 at bats and told first basemen Dave Bergman and Keith Moreland they weren’t going to get much playing time.
Sparky made you his starting First baseman on Opening Day and told reporters:
“This guy is as good a natural hitter as I’ve ever seen…If he could run, he’d be a million-dollar player. I’ll die before he comes out of the lineup.”
Desperate to live up to Sparky’s effusive forecast, you went 0 for 20 at the start of the season; by the middle of May, you were hitting .115 when Sparky finally pulled from the starting lineup and yet survived.
You never played again for the Tigers, getting traded in the spring of 1991 to the Yankees, the second of eight big league teams with which you played, the last Francona’s Phillies in 1999. You retired as a player after spending the 2000 season with the Yakult Swallows in Japan.
Sure, maybe Sparky rushed you to the majors and put a ton of pressure on you, but he did tell you one thing that stuck with you:
“You respect this game, because it will go on a lot longer than you’re going to play it, a lot longer than you’re going to be involved in it.’
YOU’RE TOREY LOVULLO and you muse on how intertwined baseball relationships can be: you were Jason Varitek’s manager ; Tito Francona was your manager ; you played for the Indians, when Ben Cherington worked in Cleveland’s front office ; you are currently the First base coach with Toronto and John Farrel, former Red Sox pitching coach, is the manager.
Recently you said: “I’ve watched a great man and a great leader in John Farrell all year long. As far as I’m concerned, there’s nobody better. I bounced philosophies and thoughts off of him and we were aligned in our thoughts, and I watched it work for him. And therefore, I’m convinced it could work for me.”
YOU’RE TOREY LOVULLO and now, the media is touting your boss as an ideal candidate for the one job that you covet; you wonder if John would want to leave Toronto and return to Boston; if he did, would you have a shot at his job?
You can hope John is satisfied with being manager in Toronto and willing to, once again, fully support your effort to manage the Red Sox.
YOU’RE TOREY LOVULLO and you imagine looking across the verdant green, neatly trimmed pre-game infield at Fenway Park and seeing the Toronto manager come up the dugout steps to hand his lineup to the umpires at home plate; and you imagine yourself on your way to home, both shoes double-knotted, with the Red Sox batting order in your right hand.
YOU’RE TOREY LOVULLO and you imagine that you are the manager of the Boston Red Sox, the team of Ted Williams and, finally, it’s “You’re Turn At Bat.”
Photo credit: http://soxblog.projo.com/1107%20Torey%20Lovullo.JPG
|2011||First Base Coach||Toronto Blue Jays||MLB-AL||MLB|
|2012||First Base Coach||Toronto Blue Jays||MLB-AL||MLB|