PAWTUCKET — As manager of Double-A Portland the past four seasons, Arnie Beyeler was at the forefront of nurturing while simultaneously pushing all of the better known prospects in the Red Sox’ farm chain. Beyeler’s mission was to not just get the likes of Clay Buchholz, Jacoby Ellsbury, Daniel Bard and Ryan Kalish ready for life at Triple-A, but to present them a sample of what life is like as a major leaguer.
In that regard, it’s little wonder that Beyeler will be the new manager for the Pawtucket Red Sox in 2011. The official announcement was made Wednesday afternoon, but according to Mike Hazen, Boston’s director of player development, the organization had given serious thought about promoting the 46-year-old Beyeler not long after Torey Lovullo left to become Toronto’s first base coach on Nov. 8.
“Internally, Arnie was always a strong candidate for the job. Anytime we consider internal hires we obviously want to go through a pretty solid process to make sure we’re always putting the organization in the best position possible,” said Hazen about Beyeler, an eight-year coaching veteran of Boston’s system. “Arnie was the best candidate for the job and that’s why we went forward with it.
“We always try to promote from within whenever it’s feasible to do so. You just try and see the universe of candidates who are out there, and obviously Arnie interviewed for the job as well,” Hazen continued. “Arnie certainly earned this opportunity with the work he’s done in Portland, which I think speaks for itself.”
Beyeler, who reportedly did not interview for Pawtucket’s managerial post the last time it was open, will have tough shoes to fill. In his first and only season on the bench, Lovullo was held in high regard by the players as well as Boston’s front-office staffers and on-field management. Hazen expects there to be a smooth transition much like when Lovullo followed Ron Johnson to McCoy Stadium.
“He’s very much deserving of this opportunity and challenge,” Hazen said.
Beyeler, currently coaching in the Venezuelan Winter League, has long relationships with many of the players who graduated from Portland under his watch. To someone like catcher Mark Wagner, who was elated upon receiving word that he would be managed by a familiar face in 2011, Beyeler was exactly the type of manager he needed when he arrived in Portland.
“We are both similar in that we put our noses to the grindstone and let the chips fall where they may,” said Wagner, who played for Beyeler from 2008-09. “It was about going out, putting hard work in and doing things the right way. We always saw eye-to-eye and got along real well. Guys for the most part enjoy playing for him because he was always out there as a manager. He even tried to outwork some of the players! But seriously, he tries to give you every ounce of energy he has.”
Wagner agrees that Beyeler can come off as a tough sort, which may fly when you’re predominantly dealing with younger class of players who are eager to make an impression. That said, Wagner believes Beyeler will flourish at the Class AAA ranks, known for housing more veteran types than 20-somethings.
“I know when I moved up (from Portland) that you have a lot of guys jockeying up and down from the majors to the minors,” said Wagner. “For the most part, you really don’t get to that level (Triple-A) unless you have an idea of what it takes to win day-in and day-out. That should be an easy transition for anyone, I would think.”
Said Hazen, “He’ll have a good rapport with the older players. The blend of a good, young core along with the veteran guys will be a good challenge for Arnie.”
Wagner recalls the day in June 2009 when Beyeler called him into his office and informed him that he was Pawtucket-bound.
“He told me that I was prepared and ready to go up and do my thing,” said Wagner. “It was exciting but at the same time there were butterflies, which holds true whenever you move up a level. It was a good meeting, solid.”
Beyeler was a minor league infielder in the Detroit Tigers organization from 1986-91. In an ironic twist he returns to the spot where he began his Red Sox coaching career. He served as Pawtucket’s hitting coach for the first half of the 2000 season before leaving in midseason to manage Single-A Lowell. He piloted the Spinners again in 2001 and Class A Augusta in 2002 before moving on to Texas, where he managed at the Single-A level from 2003-05. In 2006, Beyeler served as the hitting coach for San Diego’s Double-A affiliate in Mobile, Ala. before rejoining the Red Sox in 2007 with Portland, compiling a 282-283 record in four seasons.
The Red Sox also announced Wednesday that Rich Sauveur will return for his fourth season as Pawtucket’s pitching coach. The organization, however, is holding off on naming the team’s next hitting coach.
“We’re just trying to tie up some loose ends at this point,” said Hazen.