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Why John Farrell picked Brian Butterfield to become Red Sox third base coach

10.31.12 at 7:01 am ET
By

Brian Butterfield

John Farrell barely knew Brian Butterfield when Farrell took over as Blue Jays manager two years ago, but that didn’t mean he didn’t know of him.

Butterfield — the Maine native with a passion for the New England Patriots and University of Michigan football — had built a reputation around baseball during his time with the Yankees, the Diamondbacks and, for the past 10 seasons, the Blue Jays as a meticulous baseball instructor with a unique clubhouse energy.

That Farrell understood. The rest he quickly would learn.

And that’s why Butterfield was officially hired to be the Red Sox third base coach Tuesday.

“It was actually before going in there,” said Farrell when asked Tuesday night about when he realized the value of the 54-year-old. “When you sit across the field 18 times and watch how they interact with players doing early work, watch the decision-making in the third-base box and you see the energy in which he carries himself, those were all evident across the field even without knowing Brian as a person.”

But while Farrell understood Butterfield’s abilities while viewing the coach as an opponent, it wasn’t until they shared the same clubhouse that the manager could truly digest all that came with Butterfield.

“For sure,” Farrell said when asked if Butterfield’s energy and attitude weighed into the decision to bring him aboard. “He’s positive. He always looks for ways to make a positive impact on a player, whether it’s with a fundamental technique or talking through the game about challenges they might encounter. This is someone who even in his post-playing career he hasn’t forgotten how difficult this game is and how fast this game can move. At the same time, this is one of the most prepared coaches I’ve ever been around.

“The amount of time and energy he puts in video review, the attention of detail which was evidenced by the number of over-shifts we employed the last two years, and he has a creative mind which he carries to the personnel that we have. We had an athletic third baseman [Brett Lawrie] in Toronto, so we could be more aggressive. After conversations with Brian about how we prepare against certain opponents, we weren’t going to limit that creativity, and in the end it really allowed us to save a high number of runs.”

Not hurting Butterfield’s candidacy was his experience manning the third base coaching box at Fenway Park. Since joining the Jays in 2002, Butterfield has coached third in 83 Fenway Park games.

“Without a doubt,” Farrell said regarding prioritizing the importance of Butterfield’s familiarity with Fenway. “This is a difficult park to be a third base coach in. It became very clear to me in working with him in our first series in Fenway Park together, the way he talked about the characteristics with the ballpark, what he needed from baserunners and stressing certain points in advance meetings with position players, he’s very detailed. He keeps notes on every ballpark in which we play. That preparation and experience go a long way for an easy request of Brian to come join the Red Sox. I know one thing, he’s excited, we’re excited and we’re fortunate to add a quality, experienced third base coach.”

Farrell said the Red Sox will continue interviewing coaches this week, starting with pitching coach candidates Rick Peterson and Juan Nieves. With Torey Lovullo and Butterfield in the fold (although Butterfield is a candidate for the Blue Jays managerial position), the Sox still need to fill out their pitching coach, hitting coach, first base coach and bullpen coach spots.

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