It’s no secret that the art of communication is key to managing the Pawtucket Red Sox. Naturally the interaction with the players is a high priority, yet there’s also touching base with the major-league coaching staff or the front office, or with someone from the player development sector or even the Double-A manager.
No wonder why several of Gary DiSarcina’s predecessors made sure to have their cell phones close by while batting practice took place. It’s a 24/7 lifestyle wherein the PawSox manager must be on standby at all times and ready to field inquires from all walks of baseball life.
During his introductory press conference Friday afternoon at McCoy Stadium, the 45-year-old DiSarcina spoke with such great understanding about the post he’s inheriting and the responsibilities that come with the territory. Serving as Pawtucket’s field manager is a prime chance for the articulate and well-spoken Massachusetts native to expand his communicating horizons, as there figures to be plenty of days when his phone buzzes with activity.
“It’s honest communication and being consistent with it on a daily basis, especially at this level where you’re having to do it with (Red Sox manager) John Farrell on down,” DiSarcina wished to convey. “What I’ve learned in the past is that if you’re not honest, you’ve got people who are guessing what’s going on. If these guys [meaning the ballplayers] start guessing, then you lose them because they know this guy doesn’t know what he’s doing. It becomes an, ‘I’m just out here for myself’ type of thing.
“Open and honest communication solves so many issues and problems that when you talk about brush fires, don’t let them start,” DiSarcina added. “Just communicate openly.”
Adhering to the first commandment of skippering the PawSox figures to be no problem for DiSarcina. He hasn’t even managed his first game on Ben Mondor Way, yet it’s hard not to find a more well-versed sort who has been part of the game in a myriad of capacities. He’s played the game at the highest level, doing so for 12 seasons with the Angels. He’s served as an in-studio analyst and managed at the Single-A level. More recently, he worked in a front-office capacity with Los Angeles of Anaheim.
You don’t get into the position(s) that DiSarcina has been in without communicating in such a fashion that people can’t help but walk away feeling impressed. With time, you find yourself coming from a position of strength, which in turn can open doors to even more promising endeavors such as guiding the PawSox.
“All of the things he’s been through puts him in a position to hit the ground running here,” notes Ben Crockett, Red Sox farm director. “Certainly (Triple A) is a challenging atmosphere and will be a game of adjustments for him, not having performed this specific role yet. The personality he has, though, will suit him very well.”
What figures to help strengthen the lines of communication between DiSarcina and the personnel he will interact with is the familiarity has with Boston. Mike Hazen headed up the minor-league system when DiSarcina was based in Lowell; now Hazen is an assistant to general manager Ben Cherington, who sent DiSarcina a note upon deciding to hang it up for good.
At the time of his final spin around the professional merry-go-round, DiSarcina was a PawSox.
“When I retired in 2002, Ben Cherington sent me a letter and thanked me for going to minor-league camp and being a professional,” DiSarcina shared. “At the end of the note, he basically said ‘You’ll always have a home as long as I’m here.’ That’s the type of person you’re dealing with and as a player you don’t forget that. For Ben to take the time and write that letter, it’s just that connection.”
DiSarcina has also had prior dealings with Farrell along with two members of his coaching staff – Torey Lovullo and Arnie Beyeler.
“Arnie helped me out tremendously when I first decided to manage Lowell,” said DiSarcina about the man whose PawSox managerial shoes he’s being asked to fill. “I basically went up to Portland and shadowed him for four to five days. He was a tremendous help, helping me sit down at the computer and do reports.
“To walk into Fenway Park and see those guys and the smiles on all their faces, it’s just exciting,” DiSarcina said. “A lot of those guys are mentors to me.”
Added Crockett, “Clearly when you come into a situation where you don’t know people, you’re going to figure it out and get to know them. What works in Gary’s favor is that he knows the staff.”
We are all the product of our life experience. Through jobs held and the people we’ve come across, every bit of interaction helps to mold and define the path we find ourselves navigating.
In DiSarcina, the PawSox have someone armed with enough baseball knowledge that not many things should surprise him. In turn, those experiences accrued over time should result in no trouble when the phone rings and there’s a member of the Red Sox’ hierarchy on the other end, wishing to communicate.