PAWTUCKET – On the same day Gary DiSarcina was formally introduced as the 15th manager in Pawtucket Red Sox history, we thought it would be appropriate to engage in an “getting to know you better” exercise – an opportunity to view through the lens of those who have engaged in past dealings with the new skipper in town.
The main thrust behind reaching out to the particular baseball types we did is to portray DiSarcina as someone who has worn many hats. To Torey Lovullo, the ex-PawSox manager and current Red Sox bench coach was a teammate of DiSarcina’s in 1993 with the California Angels. In 2010, Lovullo and DiSarcina worked under the same minor-league umbrella – Lovullo piloting the PawSox while DiSarcina served as Boston’s infield coordinator.
Probing DiSarcina’s managerial past, we call upon Red Sox outfield prospect Ryan Kalish. Yes, the manager-player dynamic endured a short shelf live, but listen to Kalish speak about the 23 games he suited up for DiSarcina during the 2007 season at Single-A Lowell and one can’t help but feel that the Red Sox covered all the appropriate bases upon naming DiSarcina as Arnie Beyeler’s successor.
Gary DiSarcina, the teammate
During the aforementioned 1993 season, Lovullo and DiSarcina served as the Angels’ double-play tandem – Lovullo the second baseman and DiSarcina the shortstop. Such a partnership allowed Lovullo to unearth layers and totally understand where a clubhouse mainstay such as DiSarcina was coming from (DiSarcina played all 12 of his MLB seasons with the Halos).
“He wanted to get in sync with my fundamentals and made it easy to fit into his defensive thought process,” Lovullo shared. “He made demands, but he made them obtainable and realistic. He would ask certain things from certain guys, but no matter who you were, he expected your best.
“Gary was as hard working, dedicated and professional a teammate that I had during my 15 years in pro baseball,” Lovullo delved further. “He understood what he meant to a team and stayed within his capabilities and gave everything he could for the sake of the team.”
See DISARCINA, page B6
Lovullo says that DiSarcina was able to compartmentalize clubhouse business and on-field expectations in such a way that it was like he was the Pied Piper in cleats.
“His easygoing demeanor off the field and relentless behavior when it came to competition on the field … he was just so easy to gravitate towards because of his personality,” Lovullo said.
Gary DiSarcina, the minor-league coordinator
Roughly 20 years after forming two-thirds of the Angels’ up the middle triangle, DiSarcina and Lovullo reconnected, this time on the player development side of the ledger. At the time, Lovullo was new to the Red Sox in 2010 while DiSarcina had spent the previous three seasons piloting the Spinners.
Whenever a roving instructor pays a visit to an affiliate, there’s a feeling-out process that requires members of the day-to-day staff to brief and bring up to date this so-called outsider. With DiSarcina and Lovullo, there were no awkward moments and no reminders to be on their best behavior. The contents of their preexisting baseball-centric relationship allowed them to dive headfirst into the business of developing players.
“There’s a natural fit there; he’s one of my best friends in baseball,” Lovullo pointed out. “That made it easy to sit down and have conversations with him from the moment I joined the Boston Red Sox from the Cleveland Indians. He was pulling me along and helped me out with a new organization and that continued through the course of the year.
“Once we got down to the nitty-gritty and the things that needed to be done for the players, he offered me great insights and drills to help the infielders progress and get better during the season,” Lovullo added. “Our common denominator was to go out there each and every day and help players get better. In combination with that, it was great to have that friendship that year.”
Gary DiSarcina, the manager
From Ryan Kalish’s vantage point, DiSarcina’s ability to take a team loaded with players in their early 20s and put them in the right frame of mind allowed him to take the field with a singular purpose.
“He was all about playing the game hard and the way it was meant to be played,” said Kalish, looking back at the summer of 2007 in Lowell. “I had a situation where I had to learn the hard way about playing hard for him, but it wasn’t one of those things where he changed his perspective of me. It was ‘you messed up, you’re going to sit tomorrow, but we’re going to get back after it,’ and that’s exactly what happened.
It’s watershed moments like the one Kalish touched upon that has him excited about possibly serving as one of DiSarcina’s Pawtucket charges in 2013.
“I just remember feeling good every day I went to the yard,” said Kalish. “He understands what the goal is – to get as many players called up as he can. It’s going to be awesome to rekindle the relationship we started a while back.”
The job of a Triple-A manager is all encompassing. There’s the hands-on treatment specifically reserved for younger players, yet it’s also making sure there’s no disconnect with the seasoned veterans.
While DiSarcina does have experience when it comes to writing out a lineup, he’s never been at the managerial helm at this particular level where the makeup features old and new and players come and go on seemingly a daily basis. Wishing to understand what awaits him, DiSarcina phoned his good buddy Lovullo on Wednesday.
“He knows that it’s a new animal and what goes on at Lowell does not compare to Triple A,” said Lovullo. “We had an hour and a half-long conversation and he talked about his willingness to walk through the process as best he can. To reach out to people who have been there before him, it speaks volumes about how quickly he’s going to fit in (with the PawSox) and do a great job. He’s aware of the challenges, but it will be a simple transition, I can almost guarantee that.”