Ruben Amaro Jr. longed for the day-to-day coaching grind of Major League Baseball.
How else would one explain his willingness to transition from Philadelphia Phillies general manager to Boston Red Sox first base coach at the drop of a hat?
The Red Sox hired Amaro as their new first base coach Monday in a unique move that speaks to the former GM’s desire to immerse himself in the world of coaching. Amaro spent the last 17 seasons in the Phillies front office, including his final seven as Philadelphia’s general manager and senior vice president, but he wanted a fresh endeavor after being fired by his former organization last month.
“I guess it is unusual,” Amaro said Monday during a conference call. “But for me, I’ve always had kind of an itch to be back on the field.
“Clearly, I had a great opportunity to work in the front office with Philadelphia for many, many years. But all the while, I guess when you sit from that seat, there’s always an observation that as a player for many years, it’s always been something that I thought about quite a bit and I was afforded a wonderful opportunity when (Red Sox manager John Farrell) called 10 days ago.”
Amaro spent eight seasons in the majors as a player from 1991 to 1998. He was a teammate of Farrell with the Cleveland Indians in 1994. It didn’t take long for Amaro to land a front office gig with the Phillies following his retirement, but he, like many former big leaguers, missed being engrained in the on-field action upon hanging up the spikes.
Farrell can relate, having been the Indians’ director of player development before becoming the Red Sox’s pitching coach in 2007 and ultimately becoming a major league manager.
“Always having that competitive element within you, that fire never really ever goes out,” Farrell said Monday. “And that’s one of the things we talked about when Ruben came to Boston last week.
“You walk through the dugout as you’re going out on the field to talk to someone or to see batting practice, and you feel the pull of the dugout. And that’s the former player in you, that’s the ability to compete and impact the game on a nightly basis.”
The Phillies went to the World Series with Amaro as their GM in 2009. Perhaps Amaro, who’s under contract with Boston through the 2017 season, is looking to parlay his return to the field as a first base coach into something bigger down the line, as he previously expressed interest in managing someday.
But for now, it’s all about scratching an itch that’s been lingering for the last 17 years. The Red Sox’s job offer simply was too good for him to pass up. Amaro will serve as Boston’s outfield instructor and will help with baserunning instruction in addition to his first base coaching duties.
“At the end of the day, I felt like this opportunity doesn’t arise all that often. I have been thinking about getting back on the field in some capacity,” Amaro said. “My current goals are really just to help the Red Sox get back to where they need to be, and I know just from having talked to (president of baseball operations) Dave Dombrowski and John about where they want to go, it’s about winning and getting back and holding a World Series championship trophy up again.
“I will have to say this, and no disrespect to other organizations, but had it not been the Red Sox, frankly, I probably would not be doing it.”
Amaro finally is doing it. And he sounds ready for the challenge, however unusual it might be.
Thumbnail photo via David Manning/USA TODAY Sports Images
Philadelphia Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr.
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