Different signs of spring
Bogar learning from new boss
PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. - He has been a whirlwind, constantly moving, receiving information from his new boss, Bobby Valentine, and carrying out things the manager wants done.
Welcome to Tim Bogar’s new world.
This is Bogar’s first time as a bench coach, the last stop before becoming a manager. And while there are no guarantees that he will reach the coveted job of major league skipper (it hasn’t worked that way for former Red Sox bench coach DeMarlo Hale, who accepted a position as the Orioles’ third base coach), baseball is always looking for new managerial prospects.
And Bogar is one of them.
He spent a season with Joe Maddon in Tampa Bay and three years with Terry Francona in Boston. When Valentine was hired by the Sox, Bogar, who still had a year left on his contract, was tabbed as the new manager’s right-hand man.
One of the responsibilities of a bench coach is to run spring training. He implements Valentine’s game plan and vision, which so far has been different than anything Bogar ever has experienced.
Bogar, 45, is now on a fast track. He will either be Valentine’s heir apparent, or he’ll be the next sought-after managerial candidate.
Bogar played for Valentine as a Mets utility infielder in 1996, but he was traded to the Astros March 31, 1997, for Luis Lopez. Now Bogar is second in command to the man who didn’t keep him around as a player. They’re making it work.
We’ve outlined how different Valentine’s camp is compared with Francona’s. Bogar can attest to that as well as anyone.
“I think first you just deal with the person themselves,’’ he said. “Bobby and Tito are two different individuals. The way they approach the game is completely different, so the way they go about spring training is completely different.
“Tito has his ways of getting things across and he did it very effectively. Bobby goes at it at a different angle and he gets it done very effectively. In spring training, we accomplish the same things, but it’s being done in a different style.
“Bobby is a very detailed, mechanical type of teacher. So when we’re going through the drills, they’re a little more detailed. Whereas Tito would cover the same material, it was just covered differently. Bobby is more like, ‘Your foot has to be this way,’ or that type of detail. Those are the biggest differences.’’
Bogar believes Valentine has tapped into his past in Japan to better address the future.
“The things Bobby does, he’s had a lot of experience in two different worlds,’’ said Bogar. “He’s seen a lot of things that many of us haven’t. I haven’t see how Japanese teams work consistently over a long period of time. Some of that stuff has been implemented here.
“The way Bobby thinks things through, it’s more about the modernization of the game rather than how we used to do things. It’s about how we’re going to do things to get better. I think he does a good job of that.’’
Bogar believes he’s gotten to know Valentine over the winter and in camp thus far.
“I played for him briefly back in the day, and we’ve spent a lot of time together over the winter before spring training and pretty much every day here,’’ Bogar said. “Getting to know his personality a little bit better. As a player, you don’t really know until you’re on this side with him, exactly how he is.’’
Bogar said the same energy Valentine shows in public is what he sees behind the scenes.
“Bobby’s always got things in the fire,’’ said Bogar. “Things are always working. You get the same guy every day. He’s a bundle of energy and he likes to be involved, not only in the fundamentals, but hitting, pitching, and everything else that’s involved.’’
Bogar said it has been a challenge.
“I wouldn’t say it’s tough, but there are variables, including a new complex, new staff, and his ideas of implementing things that are different than what I’m used to here the last three years,’’ he said. “It’s just a challenge and that part of the puzzle of putting things together.
“It’s been very good, because I think what Bobby has brought has sparked the players’ imagination on how to play the game better.’’
Bogar agrees that Valentine is more similar to Maddon than Francona. Bogar was a coaching assistant under Maddon and Francona’s first base coach.
“All three are great baseball guys,’’ Bogar said. “They all know the game extremely well. They all understand it and see it very well. The way they communicate, they’re a little bit different.’’
Bogar always has been a student of the game. And as a bench coach, he knows he’s the next in charge.
“The way I look at it, I’m the next manager,’’ he said. “If something happens to Bobby in a game, I’m managing, so I’d better be prepared and know the players well. That’s going to give me a good advantage.’’
Bogar certainly aspires to manage one day. He’s done it the right way; after playing nine seasons in the major leagues with the Mets, Astros, and Dodgers, he managed in the Cleveland and Houston organizations, where he compiled a .591 winning percentage.
He served a year under Maddon as a quality control coach, assisting in infield play and base running, before coming to Boston, where he’s been the first and third base coach in charge of the infield.
“Very bright, organized, baseball-intelligent guy,’’ said Maddon. “We hated to lose him.’’
Bogar, under Valentine, should receive the attention that’s often needed to take the next step.
While it could be viewed that Valentine inherited Bogar, the new Sox manager has praised Bogar from the start of camp. Usually a manager’s bench coach is his biggest confidant. While that role may fall to third base coach Jerry Royster, whom Valentine appointed, there’s a growing bond between Valentine and Bogar.
“My focus right now is to be the best bench coach I can be for Bobby,’’ Bogar said. “This is a talented group of players and our job is to get the most out of them.’’
Nick Cafardo can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.