CLEVELAND — Torey Lovullo’s loyalty can’t be questioned.
Although Lovullo signed a two-year contract extension that will pay him in the “upper echelon” of bench coaches across Major League Baseball, according to Red Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski, the interim manager still passed on the opportunity to pursue a full-time managerial job elsewhere in large because of his connection to skipper John Farrell and the Boston organization.
That’s admirable, given Lovullo’s stock has never been higher.
“It was a difficult decision for me,” Lovullo admitted Sunday after the Red Sox announced Farrell would return as manager and Lovullo would return as bench coach for the 2016 season. “I’m a processor, I heard the information that Dave presented to me, and it just felt right to be here, it just felt right to stay here, it just felt right to see this through.
“I have a love for the organization, I have a love for John, I have a love for the players. And if something were to happen, my time is coming if it’s meant to be, and it just felt like this was the right thing to do — to stay here and to see it through.”
Lovullo, who was under contract for 2016 before signing a more lucrative extension that runs through 2017 earlier this week, is being compensated for sticking around rather than pursuing a managerial gig elsewhere. It’s also reasonable to wonder whether he’ll be next in line for Boston’s job if the Red Sox stumble out of the gate next season, like they did under Farrell in 2015. Let’s not sell those points short.
But Lovullo has interviewed for several managerial openings in recent years, even becoming a finalist for the Minnesota Twins’ job last offseason before Paul Molitor was hired. It’s likely Lovullo could have taken his talent to another organization this offseason and been just fine. It just wasn’t what he wanted to do.
“I want to see that process through,” Lovullo said of staying with the Red Sox, who recognize it could take Farrell some time to adjust upon returning from his bout with Stage 1 lymphoma. “I want to be here for John. I want to assist John in any way that I possibly can, and I just want to make sure that it lines up the way it was supposed to line up before I ran out on him. That’s how I’m looking at it.”
Perhaps next season will be Lovullo’s last with the Red Sox. He has done enough to pad his managerial résumé while filling in for Farrell down the stretch this season, and he clearly aspires to be a big league manager someday. But another year in the background won’t be a problem, according to Lovullo.
“One of the people I solicited advice from was John Farrell,” Lovullo said when asked if it’ll be difficult to ride in the back seat after driving the bus for a successful two-month stretch this season. “He asked me the same question, and I said, ‘I love you, I’m loyal, and that will not be an issue.’ ”
“Band of Brothers.” Lovullo evidently has seen it.
Thumbnail photo via Tom Szczerbowski/USA TODAY Sports Images