Red Sox

Getting to know Ron Roenicke, potential next man up for Red Sox at manager

Getting to know Ron Roenicke, potential next man up for Red Sox at manager

Here's a name Red Sox fans might want to reacquaint themselves with in time for spring training: Ron Roenicke.

The 63-year-old bench coach would be a natural replacement now that the Sox have parted ways with Alex Cora after MLB's investigations into sign-stealing involving both the Astros and Red Sox exposed Cora's involvement.

A baseball lifer who was a first-round pick of the Dodgers in 1977, Roenicke is the one member of Cora's staff with big league managerial experience.

He oversaw the Brewers from 2011-15, beating out Joey Cora (Alex's brother) and Bobby Valentine to get the job. He led the Brewers to 96 wins and the NLCS in his debut, finishing second in the Manager of the Year voting to Arizona's Kirk Gibson.

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Though Milwaukee didn't reach the playoffs again in his tenure, Roenicke did oversee the development of a core that included MVP Ryan Braun, Gold Glove center fielder Carlos Gomez, and All-Star catcher Jonathan Lucroy.

The soft-spoken former outfielder is considered an excellent communicator and even-keeled presence.

He managed Alex Cora in Double A in 1997, making such an impression that Cora tabbed the former Angels third base coach to join him on the bench and provide guidance when he took over the Red Sox prior to the 2018 season.

"We didn't have a good team in that Texas League," Cora said in 2017. "We barely had prospects, and we ran away with the first half and the second half, and then we won the whole thing. He's a guy that is always paying attention to the game and pays attention to details. And that's when I realized, maybe you're not the fastest one, but you can steal a few bases. Or you don't have power, but you can look for certain pitches and try to do damage.

"He sees the game in a different way. I saw that all the way back then, and I really liked what he did with us."

Roenicke has expressed interest in returning to managing since joining the Red Sox, telling the Boston Globe's Nick Cafardo in 2018, "I miss it."

And now that Cora is out after two seasons, the Red Sox have to focus on who's going to be their manager in 2020. 

Roenicke certainly belongs among those possibilities.

"One thing a player can't have is have you panic," Roenicke told the Boston Herald in 2018. "If he thinks you've panicked or the coaches have panicked, then they lose that trust in you. If there's principles you think are really important, the good and the bad, you need to stick with those. You can't be friends with the players when things are good, then when they're bad all of a sudden you're screaming and yelling. That doesn't work.

"They see through that in a hurry and that's not the right way to go about it. If there are certain beliefs that you have, when they start going wrong you need to stick with those beliefs and let them know we're all in this together. Let's stick with what we think is going to work and we'll come out of it."

Mike Lowell says he'd love to take job as Red Sox manager temporarily if it brought Alex Cora back

Mike Lowell says he'd love to take job as Red Sox manager temporarily if it brought Alex Cora back

Mike Lowell would check a lot of the boxes the Red Sox would be looking for in their managerial search. The popular former Red Sox third baseman is a Cuban-American who speaks Spanish and English and is media-savvy as an analyst for the MLB Network. 

Still, there's one condition he has that will probably take Lowell out of the running. 

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The 2007 World Series MVP and 2018 inductee into the team's Hall of Fame has no managerial experience, but told WEEI's Rob Bradford in a text message, "I would love to if I knew it was just for a year and Cora was guaranteed to come back."

Alex Cora, a Red Sox teammate of Lowell's for three seasons (2006-08), was let go by on Tuesday after he was named as the central figure in Major League Baseball's investigation of sign-stealing by the Houston Astros when Cora was their bench coach in 2017. Cora is also alleged to have brought a similar system to Boston when he became manager before the 2018 season. MLB is continuing to investigate the allegations against the Red Sox and it will likely result in a suspension of one season or longer for Cora.

Former Astros manager A.J. Hinch and general manager Jeff Luhnow were each suspended for a season by MLB and subsequently fired by Houston.

With Cora facing perhaps a longer punishment, or perhaps even a lifetime ban from baseball -- and from Red Sox ownership's telling silence when asked if Cora would ever manage in the majors again -- Lowell's plan of temporarily filling in until Cora's return isn't likely to fly. 

Ron Roenicke sounds clean, making him the safest choice to replace Alex Cora as Red Sox manager

Ron Roenicke sounds clean, making him the safest choice to replace Alex Cora as Red Sox manager

SPRINGFIELD -- The Red Sox are unlikely to name a manager in the next few days, preferring instead to take as disciplined an approach to this momentous decision as they can, given the time constraints.

They'd love to hire from within for the sake of continuity, but they face a dilemma: what if they tab a coach to replace Alex Cora, only to find him implicated when MLB completes its investigation into allegations of sign-stealing in 2018?

The coaches met the media on Saturday morning at Winter Weekend, and one of them sounded like the safest bet to emerge unscathed from whatever report MLB produces. And so, given the challenges that loom, with spring training only three weeks away, it's fair to say bench coach Ron Roenicke put his best foot forward as an honest and forthright potential face of whatever follows this scandal.

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"It's obviously a tough time," Roenicke said. "And I know things over the years, maybe some little things have happened before. But when something like this comes out, it obviously damages the game. I think you try to get past it. You try to do things the right way. I came from being with Mike Scioscia for a long time in Anaheim and it was something that was really important to Mike, how we went about things as a staff and what we did. 

"I took that same philosophy when I went to Milwaukee and managed. I always felt like yes, there's lots of things we could do on the field. When I was a third-base coach I could give pitches to the hitters since 2000 when I was in the big leagues and that's legal to do from the third-base box. But I didn't think it was right, so I didn't do it.

"I spent so many years playing this game and trying to do things the right way," Roenicke added. "It's hard. It hurts in all areas. You try to raise your kids to do things the right way, you try to live your life that way, you try to be that way in your career. So,  anytime you see that, it hurts. I also realize that we all screw up. I've screwed up. Everybody has. It just happens this is a huge deal, and it's sad to see that for the game."

It remains unclear if the Red Sox are focusing on an interim solution or someone who could fill the role longer term. They'll undoubtedly take a host of characteristics into consideration, not least of which is a facility with analytics, which Cora embraced. Roenicke, 63, might not be the most progressive choice in this regard, but outside of pitching coach Dave Bush, it's hard to single out a Red Sox coach who would be.

From a messaging standpoint, though, the Red Sox could do a lot worse than the avuncular former Brewers skipper, who led Milwaukee to 96 wins and an NLCS berth in 2011, finishing second in the Manager of the Year voting. He also spent eight years in the major leagues as a switch-hitting outfielder.

He certainly didn't sound like someone concerned about being caught up in the collateral damage of whatever the Red Sox may or may not have done in 2018.

"It would be concerning if something happened that I knew I was a part of, that I was brought into as part of that," he said. "I know what I do. I always try to do things the right way."

Roenicke checks some boxes. He'd be the most obvious interim candidate on the staff if the team wants to conduct a more traditional managerial search next fall. And he'd allow for the continued development of third base coach Carlos Febles, who's a potential future manager, or even former All-Star catcher Jason Varitek, a special assistant who, in a perfect world, would spend some time on a coaching staff before considering his next step.

Roenicke was asked if he still harbored hopes of managing last week, before we had any idea of the scandal that was about to unfold.

"I'm always content," he said. "Coaching is fun. It's a fun job. Managing is challenging. I enjoy it. I love the challenge of it. I wasn't really thinking about it too much, but my phone was lit up every day from my friends or whoever, saying this was a possibility."

At this point in the offseason, the Red Sox probably won't find a perfect solution. There are safe ones, though, and none feels safer than Roenicke.