TOREY OFF TO TORONTO

     As I have written so many times before, baseball is a transient game.  The PawSox lost manager Ron Johnson a couple of seasons ago, but that was to Boston, so it kind of feels like he’s still around.  Different story with last years’ manager, Torey Lovullo.  He joined John Farrells’ staff in Toronto, and is now “the enemy”.  Torey is one of the nicest guys I’ve ever worked with, and it was a pleasure to talk with him on my last day in Fort Myers, as the Blue Jays squared off against Boston.

     It seemed strange to see him in the black and teal colored uniform, but he’s still the same great guy.  “I couldn’t be any better.  It’s good to see you.  It’s good to see some of the other familiar faces.  Yeah, it is a little awkward for me to be in this uniform, but I couldn’t be more excited to be where I am right now with this Toronto Blue Jay club, with John Farrell.”

     Evoking memories of “The Godfather”,  with Farrell playing the part of Vito Corleone, Torey simply got the offer he couldn’t refuse.  “You’re talking to an Italian”, he joked.  “Be careful with that one.  It was, though.  As good as my year was with the Pawtucket Red Sox, I couldn’t turn away from being a first base coach at the Big League level.  I sadly left, but quickly saw how great this opportunity was.  I don’t want to look back.  I’m not going to look back.  I want to say I had a great year with the Red Sox organization and I am here as a Toronto Blue Jay.”

     We shared a good laugh over the fact that I had correctly predicted Torey would head north of the border when the Jays hired Farrell.  “When your blog came out, this was something that hadn’t been discussed yet, so kudos to you.  You knew abnout my relationship with John.  Shortly after that, he called and said ‘Hey, I’m here, I’m ready.  Join me and let’s win a World Series’.  And here I am.”

     Torey says that he and Farrell have an advantage, knowing the Red Sox personnel on such an intimate basis.  Farrell served as Terry Francona’s pitching coach in Boston for four years.  “I feel like we have them covered pretty good.  The younger players that are coming up and will make the team at some point this year, I have got covered.  John has a tremendous knowledge of what’s here at the Big League level.  It’s about knowing your opponent and each time we come in to play this ballclub, we are going to know what their strengths and some of their limitations are.”

     While he is very happy to be where he is, Lovullo concedes that the 2011 Pawtucket Red Sox might be a lot of fun to manage.  “I follow it.  I got the “PawSox Patter” in the mail at my house in California the other day.  The good young nucleus is in place.  A lot of good players, who got at bats in September in Boston should be poised to have good years.  This could be a dynamic team.”  Torey couldn’t resist throwing a playful jab at his successor, Arnie Beyeler.  “With this team, if they don’t win, it’s Arnies’ fault.  Tell him I said that.”

     We spent a couple of moments reminiscing about the late Ben Mondor, and Torey, like the rest of us, will never forget him.  “I felt like I was put in the Red Sox organization, when I was, so I could cross paths with such a spectacular guy.  I am honored to say that I was able to get to know him.  He was so good at getting to know everybody.  He was so kind and so warmhearted.  I’ll always remember a good hearted man that always meant well.”

     I admitted to him that I was still emotionally scarred after having to wear a Los Angeles Lakers warmup top for an entire day after my Celtics lost to Kobe and his gang in last years’ NBA finals.  If the two teams return to the Finals this year, there could be another bet.  “I think the Lakers are in a cruise control mentality, much like the Chicago Bulls of the Michael Jordan era.  They just want to get to the big dance and then they start playing.  I’m watching what’s going on over there in the east, and your boys have as lot of work to do, between the Heat and the Bulls.  If there’s a rematch, I’ll be in touch with you to make sure this bet happens.” 

     Classy, as always, Torey remembered all his friends in Pawtucket, as we said our goodbyes.  “I want to take this opportunity to make sure I thank everybody properly and openly.  From the front office, Mike (Tamburro) and the whole gang.  I am going to miss that whole group.  Our fans, you know, from that aspect, it was a great year.  I appreciate everyone back in Pawtucket and at McCoy.”

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