|Brian Butterfield on M&M: Mike Napoli ‘a guy that’s going to chase you down to get some extra work’||05.01.13 at 12:07 pm ET|
Red Sox third base coach Brian Butterfield joined Mut & Merloni Wednesday to discuss Mike Napoli‘s play at first base, his approach to defensive shifts as a coach and how David Ortiz has thwarted other teams’ shifts.
Butterfield also addressed the strange situation that arose in Tuesday’s Red Sox game, in which Jarrod Saltalamacchia‘s throw to first sailed off target after his arm made contact with the umpire’s facemask.
Saltalamacchia didn’t bring up the issue at the time, he said, because he wasn’t aware the play should be called dead, and Butterfield said nobody else quite knew what happened until the moment had passed.
“I don’t think anybody really saw it until after the fact,” Butterfield said. “I didn’t see it, because you’re watching to see what the runner’s doing, and you see Salty come out of the chute, and your eyes gravitate over toward first base and we saw the ball go out in right field. So I don’t think anybody saw it from the dugout, and then when it was finally realized it it was a little bit too late.”
Butterfield said Napoli, who has spent much more time at catcher than first base over his career, has worked tirelessly to improve his defense at first.
“He’s a hard worker,” Butterfield said. “He’s a guy that’s going to chase you down to get some extra work. It’s not a case with some players that you’ve seen in the past where you’ve got to hunt him down to work defensively, to make them better defensively. He’s a tremendous kid. Nap works. He cares about everything we do. He wants to be a great defender. He’s very accountable. When he doesn’t pick a ball, he’s very upset with himself because he feels like he let his infielder down.
“He’s handling the welfare of three other infielders and a pitcher and a catcher, and the No. 1 priority is being able to get around that bag, and being able to adjust and pick balls out of the dirt and be athletic. And sometimes it’s an underrated thing because the profile is to have that first baseman be a home run hitter, which Nap has provided, and we knew he was going to provide that, but we’ve been very pleased with the way he works and how diligent he is.”
|Exactly how good a first baseman can Mike Napoli become?||03.01.13 at 7:54 am ET|
FORT MYERS, Fla. – The first step is changing the mindset.
When Mike Napoli dabbled in the world of playing first base in Anaheim and Texas (a total of 133 major league games) it was simply about survival. As he points out, there was very little work at the position, primarily because there were things to get done at the primary position of catcher.
“I was always doing catching stuff,” Napoli said of his previous practice. “When we did drills, I was behind the plate doing them. I think I’m athletic enough to do it and get better at it, and I’m going to work to get better at it.
“I’m more confident. In the drills I’m not worried about, ‘I don’t want to mess up anything.’ Now I’m taking ground balls all the time I’m confident I’m doing everything right and being in the right position.”
So now, when Napoli takes the field Friday for the first time in his career as a full-time first baseman, he has been able to alter his expectations.
Camp Butter has had the desired results.
“I throw things at Butter. He throws things at me. Just to feel comfortable over there,” said Napoli, referencing infield/third base coach Brian Butterfield. “I’ve probably taken more ground balls here in this camp in my whole career, already.”
While Friday will serve at Napoli’s next step, it has been the steps leading up to the game at JetBlue Park that will be viewed as the foundation.
This is how it went …
Napoli would take batting practice with the rest of his team on the JetBlue Park field, going through whatever drills the team had slated for that day. Then, after most of the players had adjourned to the clubhouse, the first baseman would walk to Field 1 with Butterfield to start the meat and potatoes of his day.
“I think he’s ahead of the curve,” Butterfield said. “He’s used to playing in a low position, and he’s a good athlete. His footwork around the base is good. His glove action is good. So we don’t have to break him down from square one as far as feet and glove positioning. He works and we remind him where to go in whatever we’re doing.
“The biggest thing he is going to be responsible for is the welfare of third baseman, shortstop, second baseman, pitcher because of his ability to work around the base and handle throws that are off target. That’s really where we want to give him the most work. After that it’s knowing where to go on our bunt defense. Knowing where to go on extra base hits. So there’s a lot of things he’s probably not used to that we’re work every day on and at the end of the day we’ll review.”
There’s grounder after grounder, with Butterfield occasionally shouting out instruction or encouragement. There are miscues and mess-ups, but those will be discussed after the fact. The execution is rapid-fire and, in some regards, exhausting.
Then comes the meeting on the infield grass. Butterfield pulls out is small piece of paper and starts going down the list:
What is straight up? What is pinch?
What is no doubles?
Our bunt defense.
With a runner on first, or first and second.
How we’re going to handle the push-pull bunt.
Your cut responsibilities on extra-base hits with nobody on, or a man on first.
Where do you go on extra-base hits with nobody on.
Our 3-6 throw responsibilities.
“There is going to be a lot of verbal,” Butterfield said. “And just seeing where to go is maybe a little more appropriate now then the repetition of practicing it. We do our work and try and cover one thing a day and at the end we do a review where you’re thinking about where you’re supposed to be.”
So, is there anything that has surprised Butterfield about his student?
“His footwork around the base is very good. His ability to play low, because corner infielders need to play low because the ball gets on you quick. He’s already there, and he’s comfortable moving from that position. I’m very pleased with the athleticism he has.,” the coach said.
“He has a chance. He has a chance to be good. And he wants to get better, and that’s always fun.”
|A very Yankee look to the Red Sox coaching staff||11.29.12 at 10:24 am ET|
In retrospect, the fact that Greg Colbrunn emerged as what Red Sox manager John Farrell referred to as the clear choice for his hitting coach should have come as no surprise. After all, Colbrunn spent the last six years working for the Yankees.
Colbrunn spent 2007-12 on the staff of the Single-A Charleston RiverDogs, New York’s Single-A affiliate, spending all but one of those years (2010, when he was the manager) as a hitting coach. He represents the latest addition to a staff with deep roots in the Yankees’ minor league system.
Pitching coach Juan Nieves got his start in coaching with the Yankees in 1992; he spent five years as a pitching instructor in New York’s minor league system.
Third-base coach Brian Butterfield‘s late father, Jack Butterfield, was a Yankees director of player development. Butterfield got his start in coaching with the Yankees, working as a coach and manager in the minors with them from 1984-1993 before getting promoted to their big league coaching staff under Buck Showalter in 1994.
First-base coach Arnie Beyeler‘s first coaching jobs came with the Yankees from 1997-99 before he joined the Sox in 2000 as the manager of the Lowell Spinners.
Bullpen coach Gary Tuck spent time as both a big league and minor league instructor in three stints with New York between 1989-2004. Read the rest of this entry »
|Farrell suggests Blue Jays’ goal is to compete for World Series||10.25.10 at 4:07 pm ET|
Former Red Sox pitching coach John Farrell, in his introduction as the Toronto Blue Jays manager on Monday afternoon, expressed his gratitude to the Sox for the opportunity they gave him to return to the field at the same time that he made clear his desire to compete with Boston. The man whom Toronto GM Alex Anthopoulos heralded, “first and foremost, [a]s a leader,” suggested that he pursued the Blue Jays job because he identified a team with the resources — both in terms of talent and financial — to pursue championships.
“We have a common bond here. Going through this interview process, it became very clear, the direction this organization is heading, the resources that are available to support a club that is going to compete and compare with New York and Boston in time. Those were all selling points to me,” Farrell, who will wear No. 52 with Toronto, said at the press conference to introduce him as manager. “I come here and share the same vision that [Anthopoulos and team president Paul Beeston] do, and that’s to win a World Series.”
Farrell said the opportunity with the Blue Jays was clearly more compelling than previous ones he’d been presented with (whether interviews about managerial openings with the Indians, Mariners or Pirates, all of which he declined) in part because he had seen at some length the significant potential of a Blue Jays team that finished 2010 with an 85-77 record on the strength of a lineup that set a franchise record for home runs and a young, talent-laden rotation that features Ricky Romero, Brandon Morrow, Shaun Marcum and Brett Cecil.
“I think it’s clear, no matter of whether it’s on the Red Sox side of the field or the other side of the field, what’s taking place here,” said Farrell. “It didn’t give the impression of a one-year wonder. You saw the youth, talent in the rotation. … The ultimate goal is to sustain this, not to say we did it one year, but to say we did it year over year.”
Farrell said that his experience pitching in Toronto in the early-1990s, when the SkyDome (now the Rogers Centre) was sold out nightly, made the idea of managing the Blue Jays even more appealing. He suggested that there was potential for Toronto, when it is ready to contend, to operate with the resources of a large-market team (Toronto, he noted, is the fourth largest market in North America) that can acquire free agents to complement the talented, largely homegrown core of the club.
Already, he views the team as having a number of components needed to make headway in the AL East.
“There is a lot of work to be done, yet [there are] strengths of this ballclub, which center around a young pitching staff, a very good starting core, an offense that set records with the home run ball,” said Farrell. “We also know that in this division, it’s extremely difficult to compete. … It’s an extremely challenging division.
“We can assemble a team to [compete]. We know that we have to earn the trust of our fans. That’s where coming back to the vision of winning a World Series is here,” said Farrell. “Working off the strengths of the individuals on this roster, we can achieve that.”
If the Blue Jays put themselves in position to compete for a championship, Farrell said that he received assurances that Toronto will be able to carry a payroll to support such ambitions.
“Tampa’s been able to do it on a much lower payroll. I think the most important thing is how efficient we are as an organization. … At the right time, there’s an ability to sign free agents to augment the roster that’s currently in place,” said Farrell. “We know we’re not going to be at the level of New York, per se. At the same time, there’s going to be the ability to compete.
“This is where conversations got very pointed with Alex,” Farrell added. “At the right time, there’s going to be an ability to support a very strong payroll.”
Farrell said that the goal of the Jays will be to rank in the top five of the American League in runs scored and runs prevented, suggesting that doing so bodes well for teams with World Series aspirations. He also said that the Jays will retain pitching coach Bruce Walton and third-base coach Brian Butterfield. (Butterfield was one of the other finalists for the managerial vacancy.)
The 48-year-old Blue Jays manager took time to thank the Red Sox — starting with manager Terry Francona for the opportunity he had in Boston. He praised Francona’s managerial style, in which he “never wavered” in support of his players, leading to a clubhouse atmosphere where members of the roster “wanted to run through a wall for him.”
“Tito, the last four years standing beside you have been a tremendous learning experience,” said Farrell. “The opportunity that you and [the Red Sox front office] afforded me in Boston is really what allowed me to make this progression to come here today.”
Anthopoulos said that ultimately, while it represented a plus that Farrell was experienced with the AL East and while some might view it as a drawback that he had an on-field background solely with pitchers (first as a big league pitcher, then as a pitching coach), ultimately, neither of those elements was important in the selection of Farrell.
“It was irrelevant to me what position he played, because he showed all of the other criteria that were important. … [Knowledge of the division] was part of it, but the person was more important than anything else,” said the Toronto GM. “It came down to the person and the things we were going to value.”
Just as was the case for the Sox when they tabbed Farrell as a pitching coach, and when they did everything in their power to retain him when other teams asked to interview him about managerial vacancies, the Blue Jays reached the conclusion that they had found their man. And Farrell, for his part, believes that he has found the right organization in which to cut his managerial teeth.
“I’m anxious to get started,” Farrell said. “I’m anxious to grab this situation wholeheartedly.”
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