Amaro named first-base coach, outfield instructor
Former Phillies GM says he 'always had kind of an itch to be back on the field'
BOSTON -- Without hesitation, Ruben Amaro Jr. is changing his work attire from suit and tie to Red Sox uniform.
In an unconventional move, the Red Sox announced Monday that they selected a former general manager to be their next first-base coach/outfield instructor.
Although there was much surprise when news broke over the weekend that this move was in the works, Amaro has craved working at field level for some time.
When the Phillies announced in September that they would not be renewing Amaro's contract as GM, it provided the longtime executive with a perfect chance to take a different path.
"I guess it is unusual, but for me, I've always had kind of an itch to be back on the field," Amaro said. "Clearly, I had a great opportunity to work in the front office with Philadelphia for many, many years. All the while, when you sit from that seat, there's always an observation as a [former] player for many years, it's always been something I've thought about quite a bit."
If anyone can relate to Amaro's somewhat unique switch in jobs, it is Red Sox manager John Farrell. Before being hired as Red Sox pitching coach in 2007, Farrell had been the longtime farm director of the Cleveland Indians.
"What Ruben just talked about, always having that competitive element within you, that fire never really goes out," Farrell said. "That's one of the things we talked about when Ruben came to Boston last week, is that I found myself, and maybe Ruben in some ways the same way, you walk through the dugout either going out on the field to talk to someone or see batting practice, and you feel the pull of the dugout. That's the former player in you, the ability to compete and impact a game on a nightly basis. There's a commonality to that."
Amaro, 50, has no previous coaching experience and went straight to the Phillies' front office after his playing career ended in 1998.
"At the end of the day, I felt like this opportunity is one that doesn't arrive all that often," Amaro said. "I have been thinking about getting back on the field in some capacity. My current goals are really just to help the Red Sox get to where they need to be, and I know just from having talked to Dave Dombrowski and John about where they want to go, it's about winning and holding a championship trophy up again. No disrespect to other organizations, but had it not been the Red Sox, frankly I probably would not be doing this."
With the Red Sox, Amaro will be able to work with an exciting trio of young, athletic outfielders in Rusney Castillo, Mookie Betts and Jackie Bradley Jr.
"I'm ecstatic," Amaro said. "Clearly, with Mookie Betts, Jackie Bradley, Rusney Castillo, Brock Holt, Travis Shaw, there's some talented young men, there's no question about it. We're in a world of youthful energy and quality. One of the things that John and I talked about was sometimes underappreciated is the importance of outfield play and quality outfield play."
Why did Farrell believe Amaro was the right candidate?
"Other than knowing Ruben's intelligence from who he was as a player, we're talking about someone who had to learn all three outfield positions as a former infielder," Farrell said. "The steps he went through as a player certainly has given him an incredible reference point to go back to begin to teach and to help others."
Farrell was also impressed by Amaro's sincere desire to land the job.
"The thing that really stood out to me was when I made the first call and we had a conversation about it and he said he needed some time to think about this," Farrell said. "The next morning, the phone rings and it's Ruben. 'I just want to be sure that you don't think I'm taking this lightly.' And then there was another call the next day and then the next day from him. It really started to shine through that not only was he interested, but his passion about getting back on the field in this role became much clearer."
The fact that Amaro is ready to take an on-field job lends credence to a recent report that he might be interested in managing some day.
"To be frank, I'm more focused in trying to get myself ready to coach a very talented group of young players in Boston," Amaro said. "That's the primary goal -- that's the goal that I'm excited that John and Dave have given me the opportunity to do, and I'll focus on being the best first-base/outfield/ baserunning coach I can be, and whatever happens after that happens. Listen, everybody has goals long term, but I'm more laser-focused on being the best coach I can be and helping the Red Sox and play a small part in bringing the championship back to Boston."
Amaro became the general manager of the Phillies on Nov. 1, 2008, right after the club won the World Series. He took over for Pat Gillick.
Under Amaro, the Phillies got back to the World Series the next year, losing to the Yankees. The Phillies won the National League East from '09-11, but they didn't make it to the postseason the past four years.