|Red Sox infield coach Brian Butterfield breaks down Rougned Odor vs. Jose Bautista fight||05.16.16 at 7:26 pm ET|
KANSAS CITY — Brian Butterfield doesn’t typically condone violence on a baseball field, but in the case of Rougned Odor and Jose Bautista on Sunday night, he’ll allow it.
Butterfield is uniquely qualified to dissect the play that led to Odor landing an overhand right flush to Bautista’s jaw. Not only is he an infield instructor wise to the nuances of the slide that precipitated the brawl, he also coached Bautista in Toronto.
“As far as the fight goes, you’d rather not see it happen, but when guys get hit and there’s a history, that’s going to happen every once in a while,” he said. “I’m fine with it. I’m sure it’s a different feeling in both of those clubhouse, but I was really fine with everything that went on.”
Bautista enraged the Rangers last October by authoring one of the great bat flips in history on a crucial home run in the playoffs. The Rangers waited to seek retribution until his final at-bat of the season series before drilling him on Sunday.
An annoyed Bautista took first, and then slid hard and late on Odor, whose submarining relay to first practically scalped Bautista.
The two got in each other’s faces before Odor unloaded on Bautista’s, sparking a benches-clearing melee.
Butterfield first broke down the slide, which he considered borderline but appropriate.
“He stayed low,” he said. “He stayed below the knees. It was a firm slide, but there was nothing else, except he went beyond the base. When he started to slide, it was right around the base, so it was a little later, he was probably still pissed off. But no, I didn’t think he went in there with the intent to hurt anybody. I think he was still pissed off where he wanted to make his presence felt.”
In that situation, Butterfield noted, Odor must hold his ground and the low throw is one way to defend himself.
|Red Sox third base coach Brian Butterfield motivates Travis Shaw with hidden sticker||05.10.16 at 11:58 pm ET|
Maybe Travis Shaw would have gotten six hits in his last two games without it. But we’ll never know.
For now, we will have to assume Red Sox third base coach Brian Butterfield’s attempt to poke the bear (or in this case, the Buckeye) was just what the doctor ordered.
According to Shaw, this is what transpired …
“Last night after the game Butter came up to my locker with a big smirk on his face,” the Red Sox infielder said after his team’s 13-5 win over the A’s. “I had no clue what he was smirking about. He said, ‘Did you look in your helmet?’ I said, ‘What do you mean?’ He said there was a Wolverine sticker in there. I got three hits last night, so we’ll leave it in there. Maybe it pisses me off enough to go out there and get hits.”
To add context to the scenario: Butterfield is an enormous University of Michigan football fan, while Shaw is born and bred Ohio State all the way.
The Red Sox infielder has a Buckeye sticker on the butt of his bats, the same stickers he had previously defaced Butterfield’s Michigan helmet with earlier this season.
“I guess he got me back,” Shaw said.
It’s hard to argue the results the lefty hitter has gotten since the third base coach’s clandestine mission. He has gone 6-for-9 with six RBI and five runs, totaling two doubles and a home run for a 2.033 OPS.
And to top things off, Shaw finally managed to break out against some lefty pitching after coming into Tuesday night 2-for-25 against southpaws. This time around, he hit a three-run homer against Daniel Coulombe and a double vs. starter Sean Manaea.
“I got two hits off lefties. Those were needed,” Shaw said. “I was hoping I could hit lefties tonight. Those were good, especially the homer. A homer the other way against a lefty, for me that’s as good as it gets. Taking a lefty over the Monster, that shows you where you need to be.”
With the Wolverine sticker firmly attached, Shaw now heads into the series finale with a .322 batting average and .929 OPS for the season. It is the fourth-best OPS of any American League third baseman, behind Manny Machado, Nick Castellanos and Josh Donaldson.
“We’ve been working on a few things, trying to quiet me down at the plate,” he said. “I started working on it in New York a little bit and it seemed to free up my hands a little bit. We’ve been trying to make an adjustment the last week, and now I feel a lot better at the plate than I was the previous week.”
|No timetable for Hanley Ramirez to play first base: ‘If he’s not ready, he’s not ready’||08.27.15 at 4:51 pm ET|
This week in Chicago saw Hanley Ramirez begin to learn the fundamentals of playing first base from infield and third base coach Brian Butterfield.
Although the team would likely want to see what they have in him at the position, there is no rush.
“There’s no timetable,” Butterfield said to WEEI.com’s Rob Bradford regarding putting Ramirez in an actual game at the position. “If he’s not ready, he’s not ready. That was very clear right from the get-go.”
If he doesn’t play at all this season then he would get even more time to work at it next spring training, which Butterfield says is the ideal place to learn a new position.
“The benefits of spring training are priceless,” Butterfield explained. “You go out there three times a day at different segments of the day and work on different things and you can go at a slow pace. It’s a little bit different time scale now. There are a lot of people involved, needing time. Now there isn’t that time you have in spring training, where some guys get full day of work without playing a game. We have to play a game today. We have to scale back a little bit because we need a fresh player at 7 o’clock.
“This is the first time he and I have been one-one-one. Everything has been in a team setting, with baserunning. The stuff he’s done with me has been baserunning and that has been as a group. I’ve never worked with him. There will be a feeling-out process. I don’t want to rush, but at the same token I don’t want to take too long.”
Regardless of when or if it happens, hard work won’t be an issue.
“We’re going to get after it,” Butterfield said. “That I know.”
Click here to read Bradford’s complete column detailing the challenges ahead for Ramirez.
|Brian Butterfield not questioning sending Mike Napoli: ‘Sometimes you have to push the envelope and it didn’t work today’||06.04.15 at 8:40 pm ET|
Anytime a third base coach talks to the media following a game, something likely went wrong.
In the case of Red Sox third base coach Brian Butterfield Thursday, in a 4-4 game in the seventh inning he tried to score Mike Napoli from first base with two outs on a bloop hit, but the first baseman was thrown out with plenty of room to spare, one of the frustrating things to occur in the Red Sox‘ 8-4 loss to the Twins Thursday at Fenway Park.
Napoli was on first base with two outs and Xander Bogaerts at the plate. The two executed a hit-and-run perfectly with Bogaerts singling to shallow right field, but instead of holding Napoli at third, he waved him around and after hesitating, Napoli was out at home after a perfect relay by second baseman Brian Dozier and the inning ended.
Butterfield explained his thought process afterwards.
“There’s two outs, again, not ideal hitting conditions for either team because of the shadows,” he said. “The shadows weren’t as bad during that time, but early on we’re usually taking batting practice during that time and it’s difficult to see the ball. So, I’ve got an outstanding base runner coming at me, even though he’s not real fast, he’s a guy I have trust in. Minnesota, to their credit, [Aaron] Hicks did a good job getting the ball in and [Brian] Dozier is a heads up player.
“I thought we might be able to steal one there — didn’t work. At third and as a base runner sometimes you try and anticipate anything that may occur, you don’t have an eraser, you don’t have a DVR where you can redo it. I made my decision and I stuck with it and Minnesota as they do, because they are such a good franchise they executed and they got us.”
Does Butterfield have any second thoughts about the play?
“There’s not any second thoughts about it,” he said. “If you ask me through 19 years if I haven’t had any second thoughts, I’d be lying if I said that I haven’t. Sometimes you have to push the envelope and it didn’t work today.”
|Brian Butterfield on Derek Jeter: ‘I couldn’t wait to wake up and watch him work’||09.28.14 at 3:38 pm ET|
As former and current Red Sox players honored Derek Jeter at Fenway Park prior to the final game of his 20-year career, it was the presence of Red Sox third base coach Brian Butterfield that had special significance.
Butterfield has an interesting history with the Yankees superstar. He first coached Jeter in the instructional league after Jeter was taken in the first round of the 1992 draft. He worked closely with Jeter on his defense after the shortstop committed 56 errors in his first full professional season, and Jeter has given Butterfield credit for helping him become a major league shortstop.
The Red Sox third base coach says that even though they’re not as close anymore, it’s been meaningful to be a part of Jeter’s final season.
“There’s been a lot of distance between Derek and I. I was blessed to have crossed paths with him, it was a long time ago,” Butterfield said. “I don’t have his phone number, he doesn’t have mine, we don’t stay in touch in the offseason, but when we do cross paths, because he’s such a respectful guy, he had a tremendous upbringing, he always makes a point to say something or come over and get on me about something from shortstop when I’m over at third base. I think we’ve always had a good relationship, I’m very thankful for that.”
Though it’s been more than 20 years since Butterfield first worked with Jeter in the minors, he still has fond memories of working with the shortstop. Read the rest of this entry »
|How Xander Bogaerts can stay at shortstop||08.04.14 at 8:21 am ET|
Red Sox infield coach Brian Butterfield doesn’t know if the move to third base affected Xander Bogaerts‘ offensive production. Butterfield has no way to find out the answer to that question. That being said, Butterfield has noticed a difference in the 21-year-old in the days since the team decided to trade away Stephen Drew, essentially committing to Bogaerts as shortstop for the rest of the season.
For Butterfield, the body language from Bogaerts has been the most obvious sign of the player’s happiness in moving back to his old position.
“He’s always an energetic, smiling kid anyways, but he seems even more enthusiastic, and I’m sure that’s partly attributed to his move back to shortstop,” Butterfield said. “We have a chance to make some more leaps in his progression at shortstop because he does feel a lot more comfortable there.”
While the team appears committed to Bogaerts at shortstop for the remainder of 2014, there is no guarantee that he will stick at the position next year, let alone the rest of his career. Bogaerts struggled defensively to start the season, posting a -7.7 ultimate zone rating (a defensive metric used to quantify how many runs a player has saved or given up through their play on the field), placing him among the worst defensive shortstops in baseball.
Bogaerts’ early season struggles ultimately helped push the team to sign Drew to play shortstop. Before the decision to sign Drew was made, Butterfield said wholeheartedly that he believed that Bogaerts was trending in the right direction defensively and said that he could stick at the position moving forward. That position for Butterfield has not changed in the three days since Bogaerts’ move back to shortstop.
“The biggest thing that we tried to accomplish before he made the move to third was just to get his feet right. Two days of early work or three days of early work, his feet have been right on cue. I’m very pleased with that,” Butterfield said. “During the preparation period, sometimes a guy doesn’t catch the ball the way he wanted to. The biggest thing that you’re trying to accomplish is something from the belt down, and it’s there right now. A good start coming back to his old position.”
|Brian Butterfield on The Bradfo Show: Xander Bogaerts ‘made great strides’ at short||05.22.14 at 1:59 pm ET|
Red Sox third base coach and infield instructor Brian Butterfield was a guest on The Bradfo Show podcast Wednesday to discuss the team’s infield issues. To hear the info, check the WEEI on demand page.
With Stephen Drew re-signing, Xander Bogaerts is headed to third base, something that initially left the 21-year-old surprised and dismayed. Butterfield said the ultimate result is that the team will be better.
“I love Stephen Drew and I love what he’s going to bring to us, and I love having Xander Bogaerts here. I think he gives us another element,” Butterfield said. “They’re baseball players. It’s early in the process. He’s 21 years old. If he moves to another position he’s still a good baseball player, and he’s still going to help the Boston Red Sox win games, so I’m excited for both guys.”
Butterfield has been working with Bogaerts to improve his shortstop defense, and he said there has been noticeable improvement.
“I think Bogie’s done a great job,” Butterfield said. “I know that there’s a lot of talk centered around such a tough position and a pivotal position on a championship-caliber club, but I think he’s further along than I thought he would be, he’s made great strides. He’s not there yet. He’s 21 years old, but he’s a good student, he’s got great aptitude, he wants to be a great player, and I’m very pleased with where he’s at. We’re trying to build the best team that we possibly can, and adding Stephen definitely makes us a better team. I think Bogie’s athletic, and I think he’s aware of things that are going on, that he’ll be able to make that transition to third base, and we’ll have Stephen at shortstop, and we’ll be better for it.”
Butterfield now is trying to prepare Bogaerts for the changes he’ll face at third.
“First and foremost, that pre-pitch. That ball gets on you a lot quicker when you’re at third base as opposed to shortstop, so he’s got to get used to playing at a lower — carrying his glove lower, getting into a wider stance and moving as quickly as he can from that wider stance,” Butterfield said. “He’s a big guy, as [Will] Middlebrooks is, too, so that’s an adjustment period just playing with a wider base and being able to accelerate off that wide base. But, he did it last year, and I think he’ll be able to do it again.”
|Brian Butterfield on M&M: ‘I’m really disappointed’ with MLB’s new home-plate rules||02.26.14 at 2:03 pm ET|
Butterfield said the new rules regarding home-plate collisions are unfair to baserunners.
“I’m really disappointed in the decision,” Butterfield said. “I think it puts the health of our baserunners in some jeopardy. I understand what they were trying to do to protect the catchers, with all the head injuries. But I was hoping before they finalized things that it would be equal treatment.
“Most of the catchers in the league are big and they have all that equipment on. And they’re not allowed to block the plate until they receive the ball. But now it becomes a matter of those big bodies with that gear on dropping down on ankles and feet and hands and wrists. I just don’t like the scenario right now. I guess I’ve got to wait to see how it plays out, but right now I’m not real happy with the decision.”
The Red Sox are an aggressive team on the basepaths, but Butterfield said he’ll have to reconsider his approach.
“How are we going to attack it? Is it going to change our approach with a contact play? Is it going to change our approach — certainly with my job, is it going to make my job a little bit more difficult? Or am I going to be a little bit more cautious in sending in runners? We’ll see,” he said. “Maybe I’m jumping the gun a little bit. I should probably just sit back and wait ’til there’s just a little bit more clarity.”
Butterfield said he has little sympathy for catchers, especially considering, in his mind, they create much of the contact.
“It’s real interesting, just because I think it just opens up a lot of things that might make it difficult physically for runners. Before, the catchers had it in the back of their mind they had a chance to get ear-holed. The catchers are the ones that started this whole thing. And I don’t care if catchers are listening — they started the whole thing, because they started blocking the plate a long time ago. And a lot of it was without the ball, with all that gear. So the runners had to say, ‘Well, I don’t want to get stoned here at the plate, so I’m going to have to go in there with some physicality.’ That’s what happened.
“Now that the catchers don’t have that fear of a guy coming in and banging them, then I think that the way that they’ve always been taught and their mindset is to be aggressive. It’s just not a great situation for our baserunners.”
|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.’
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