New PawSox skipper Torey Lovullo made his first public appearance in Pawtucket on Wednesday morning as a member of the “Nation”, addressing the gathered media at McCoy Stadium. Lovullo most recently served as the Triple A manager in the Indians system, first in Buffalo and then in Columbus. After the gathering, he headed to Boston. He’ll be back in Pawtucket by Friday afternoon for another media assemblage, prior to Saturdays’ Hot Stove Party at McCoy. Lovullo, 44 is a veteran of 22 years in pro baseball, including parts of 8 seasons as a big league player. Lovullo looks forward to getting started with the PawSox. “I’m really happy to be here. What I’m joining is such a great baseball tradition. What goes on here in Pawtucket is pretty special. As a visiting manager, as a visiting player, I used to enjoy coming in here. The town, the chemistry, the community of people, the fan support…Now that I’m a part of it, it’s just too much for me to think about. There’s so much excitement, I can’t wait for the season to get started.”
Lovullo has a pre-existing relationship with several key members of the Sox organization. He played for Terry Francona in Philadelphia and worked with pitching coach John Farrell and Director of Player Development Mike Hazen in Cleveland. Those factors played a big role in his decision to join the Red Sox chain. “One of the major reasons I came here was the family of managers and the family of people that are making key decisions. That’s what I want to be around. Great baseball people, great teachers and great friends. John Farrell and Terry Francona fit into that category.”
Lovullo is ready to cast his own shadow in Pawtucket. He fills the considerable shoes of Ron Johnson, who will be the first base coach for Boston in 2010. While he knows and respects RJ, he will make the job his own. “I don’t want to try to replace Ron Johnson, I don’t want to try to be Ron Johnson. He had a great run here and now he’s in the Big Leagues where he belongs. It’s time for me to step in and continue the tradition he started, developing players and sending them to the Big Leagues. I don’t want to feel the pressure of having to replace him because you can’t. It’s impossible. He’s a great man, a great baseball man. I want to go in there and develop Major League players to the best of my ability. I want to teach them what my expectations are to help get them to that next level and be successful.”
Born in Santa Monica, California, Lovullo’s father, Sam, was a legendary producer of the TV show “Hee-Haw.” Torey once told me a story about himself and “The King”. I made him tell it to me again. “I didn’t know who he was. I was 5 years old. My family made a trip to Palm Springs where Elvis Presley had a home. We walked in for a visit. I migrated outside where there was a basketball hoop. I was playing basketball with this giant figure. I didn’t know who he was, but when we got in the car, my sisters told me I had just played basketball with one of the greatest entertainers of all time. At that point I realized that maybe it was something special. It really wasn’t until about ten years later that I realized what I did.”
As a player, Lovullo was a part of 4 Governors’ Cup championships. If he can bring the first one to McCoy since 1984, maybe we’ll refer to him as “The King”.