You'd be hard-pressed to find someone who appreciates and loves his job more than Red Sox third-base coach Brian Butterfield. The Maine native soaks in teaching his players every nuance of defense and baserunning. Last season was his first with the Red Sox, and he wound up being part of a World Series winner for the first time in his career
Butterfield is also as passionate a New England Patriots fan as you will ever find. Recently, MLB.com caught up with Butterfield for a wide-ranging question-and-answer session.
MLB.com: How much do you enjoy the holiday season?
Butterfield: Well, this is my favorite time of year because it's spending time with your family. We have our grandkids with us. It's always a special time, but it's even better now when there are grandkids involved and they're all excited. When the snow falls, I'll take that for a couple of months. But then we've got to get out of it. It is a great time of year.
MLB.com: How many grandkids do you have?
Butterfield: Three. Madison is 6, Mason is 4 and Gracie is 2. They are at a great age.
MLB.com: When it comes to presents, are you an online shopper or do you like to go pick things out at the store?
Butterfield: Well, we do a little bit of both. My wife is flying all over the place. She's all around town and hitting all the malls. There are times we do stuff together. I do stuff online and I also like to spend some time out with her going out Christmas shopping.
MLB.com: A lot of people in baseball escape to warm-weather places in the winter. Talk about why you always stay in your home of Maine?
Butterfield: My wife and I have done a lot of traveling through the years due to my job. When the dust is settled, I think the most important thing is to be closest to home. Warm weather is nice, but I think family is a lot more important than the geography. We found that the further we got away from family, the tougher it was. You want to stay close to where family is. Most of her family is in Maine, and my mother is in Maine and I have my sisters and our sons are here. It's a lot better, even though it's cold and there's a lot of snow.
MLB.com: What type of traditions do you and your family have over the holidays?
Butterfield: It changes every year. My grandbabies and my son and his wife used to live up in the northern part of Maine, so they would end up going even further north to be with their family. But now they're living with us, so this will be a little bit different. We'll have a complete Christmas Day together as a family, whereas in the past we'd be here by ourselves and maybe go up to see my mom and then we would celebrate Christmas, the opening of presents, on New Year's Eve, when John and his wife and the babies would arrive.
MLB.com: Is there a Christmas present you got when you were a kid that really jumped out at you, and you still remember?
Butterfield: The one I remember the most as far as sports is my dad was the head baseball coach at the University of Maine and I got a gray Maine road jersey. He had plans for me to go on the southern trip with the team and play hooky from school. That was a big one. I remember it was No. 38, and that excited me a lot. It was a great Christmas present. The other present I remember most was the rock 'em, sock 'em robot. I loved that. The red and blue guy fighting in the league. The red guy had a glass jaw, so whenever I competed against somebody, I always took the blue guy because he had the more powerful punch and the tougher jaw.
MLB.com: As a New England guy, to finally come to the Red Sox last season and be part of a World Series winner, how special was that?
Butterfield: That was a dream come true, and I know that phrase is used a lot. I had always dreamed of playing for the Boston Red Sox in Fenway Park. But there's one stipulation. You've got to be good enough to play there. I wasn't. I'm doing the second-best thing. I'm with my dream organization that I always loved growing up and I always thought of growing up. All the people and the great tradition of that organization. To be part of a world championship, especially in the first year, was definitely a dream come true.
MLB.com: You just missed a World Series in Arizona because 2000 was the last season with the Diamondbacks, so this is your first ring, right?
Butterfield: Yes, it's funny, we did just miss there. The key part was we had just gotten Curt Schilling in 2000 and he was just removed from his surgery. Typically with all pitchers that have had surgery, it's usually the year after, not the immediate year after, but the year after that, when you get to see them at their true capabilities. We left Arizona and the next crew was the beneficiary of seeing the real Curt Schilling, along with Randy Johnson. So, yes, this is my first ring ever in the big leagues.
MLB.com: Do you ever allow yourself to sit back and just be amazed at what you were a part of last season?
Butterfield: The big thing for all of us, it was great. The playoffs and World Series were a whirlwind. We came home and relaxed a little bit, but I'm already at a point now where I'm ready to move on because 2014 is right in front of us. There's not a lot of time to breathe. It's funny because Ben and Mike Hazen and John Farrell, they haven't really had as much of an opportunity to sit back and reflect.
Free agency and trades and you have the Winter Meetings. It's really short-lived. Even though we've reflected a little bit, it hasn't been a lot. I'm already switching gears and I'm starting to get geared up for Spring Training. I'm sure as that final gun goes off in the Super Bowl, I will be 100 percent ready for the 2014 baseball season.
MLB.com: Nobody has repeated in a long time. I imagine that would be a pretty nice thing to be a part of, right?
Butterfield: What a great challenge. It's a great challenge for anybody, always. But it's a great and exciting challenge knowing that a lot of the personnel that will be in that clubhouse again next year is the same. That was a great group to go to work with last year. What a great challenge for all of us. It makes it even more exciting just knowing the type of people that are going to be coming back into that clubhouse.
MLB.com: Coaching third at Fenway for 81 games. Was it what you expected? Any big surprises?
Butterfield: No, not really. It's a great challenge, that's for sure. I think any year that you coach third base in the big leagues, especially if you have certain expectations of yourself and of your club, I think everyone who coaches the position will tell you how volatile it can be. It can be a little bit up and down. I think the biggest thing we try to do as a coaching staff is we try to emphasize being aggressive and going two bases.
There are points during the year we make outs on the bases or we make outs at the plate, but there is a means to the end. We're just going to stay aggressive and keep coaching the baserunning with conviction, but honestly, there weren't a lot of surprises. I love coaching third base there. I love coaching in that city, whether it be at Fenway or on the road, and I love coaching third for this organization.
MLB.com: Everyone knows that you are one of the biggest Patriots fanatics around. What do you think of this year's team, despite some key injuries?
Butterfield: They have been tremendously exciting. We're a little bit spoiled in this region because we've seen maybe the finest organization in the National Football League ever over a long period of time. They are always in the hunt. They are always there, despite injuries. They always have great depth. It's always the next man up. They've certainly done that. They've had so many key injuries, and to be where they are, the losses they've had, they've had a chance to win all of them. We have pretty decent gatherings for the games at my house, and as fans, we keep trying to remind each other that this can't last forever, but it is some kind of long run. It's been a lot of fun.
MLB.com: Is the start of the New Year when you start to get the itch for Spring Training?
Butterfield: Sure, but I need these time, I honestly do. We put in a lot of time for an eight-month period. I honestly need the time to decompress and recharge. I try not to peak too soon. I try to enjoy this time, because once we get going in Fort Myers, it's basically the same routine for the next eight months. You don't deviate from it. The biggest thing I try to do is prepare.
So when I have the opportunity now to go to the mall or do something a little bit different, something where I might be able to relax a little bit more … I'm still not very good at it, and my wife reminds me of it, but I try to sit back a little bit more and reflect a little bit and just be a husband and a father and a grandfather rather than be so focused on preparing for each day as a member of the Boston Red Sox.
MLB.com: How excited are you to keep working with Xander Bogaerts, who has a chance to become one of the most special players in the game?
Butterfield: I have a blast working with guys like Xander. The Sox have a bunch of them. I think the scouting department and front office has done an unbelievable job at not only bringing in guys with good ability, but the type of people that they are bringing in -- high-character guys. Bogaerts is the type of guy, you don't have to chase him down to get him to go out and work. A lot of times the defensive work is a little bit more challenging because their money is made on the offensive side of the ball, more often than not. Bogaerts would come look for me, I wouldn't have to look for him. When guys do that, you realize they want to become great players. They understand it's not all glitz and glitter of offensive baseball.
MLB.com: Is there anything you enjoy more in your job than all the infield instruction you get to do in Spring Training?
Butterfield: It's kind of like that, except I really enjoy the baserunning aspect of my coaching too. I enjoy working with all the position players. The thing where I get the most satisfaction is seeing individuals get better. Not just young guys, but older guys, veteran guys. Seeing Mike Napoli work as hard as he did early in the year, Spring Training and early in the season, I had to cut him back the last couple of months of the season just so we would have a healthy player. He's never going to shy away from work. He's going to work to the point you have to tell him to slow down. As a coach, you just love that.
Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Brownie Points, and follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne.