STANDISH, Maine — Orono native Brian Butterfield was named the third base coach of the Boston Red Sox three weeks ago but there was a stipulation.
He was still a candidate to replace John Farrell as the manager of the Toronto Blue Jays where Butterfield had been the third base coach.
Farrell left to become the Red Sox manager.
With the hiring of John Gibbons as the new Blue Jays manager Tuesday, Butterfield is now officially on board with the Red Sox and he can’t wait to get going.
“I’m getting more and more excited every day,” said Butterfield, who will also be an infield instructor.
Butterfield said Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington would have let him out of his contract if he had gotten the Blue Jays’ managerial job.
He said Cherington and Farrell were supportive during the process.
Butterfield called it a “win-win situation” for him.
“My No. 1 priority was to manage the Blue Jays but 1A was to be the third base coach for the Boston Red Sox,” said Butterfield, who has never managed in the major leagues during his 28-year coaching career.
“Growing up in New England, I always dreamed about playing for the Red Sox,” said Butterfield who wound up playing in the New York Yankees’ minor league system from 1979-84 before starting his coaching career as a roving infield instructor with the Yankees in 1984.
Butterfield acknowledged that he was disappointed he didn’t get the Blue Jays job because he “loved the city, loved the people and loved the fans” as well as the organization.
But he looks forward to beginning a new chapter in his career with a Red Sox team that produced the franchise’s worst record (69-93) since 1965 this past season.
That resulted in the firing of manager Bobby Valentine.
“I have both feet firmly planted with the Red Sox. We’ve got an awful lot of work to do,” said Butterfield.
He said Red Sox fans will have to be patient.
“I’m sure there is a plan in place,” said Butterfield, who anticipates a busy offseason for the Red Sox in terms of roster moves.
The Red Sox have already recently signed right-handed hitting corner outfielder Jonny Gomes to a two-year, $10-million deal.
He hit .262 with 18 homers and 47 RBIs in 279 at-bats for Oakland this past season.
“That’s a nice [addition],” said Butterfield. “He hits left-handers well. Having the short porch in left will help him. He’s a tough guy and he can run. He’s also a good guy in the clubhouse.”
Gomes is a career .284 hitter against lefties and has had three seasons in which he has hit 20 or more homers.
He is a career .244 hitter overall with 136 homers and 411 RBIs in 880 games spanning 10 years.
The Red Sox have also signed backup catcher David Ross to a two-year, $6.2 million contract.
He hit .256 with nine homers and 23 RBIs in 176 at-bats for Atlanta last season. He is a career .238 hitter with 84 homers and 248 RBIs.
He was 54-35 as a starting catcher the past two years and that was the best winning percentage among catchers with at least 65 starts.
“He’s also a good clubhouse guy,” said Butterfield.
Butterfield said having depth and a strong middle relief corps are two important parts of a team that are often overlooked and he feels Gomes and Ross represent a valuable boost in depth.
Butterfield had spent the last 11 seasons in the Blue Jays organization including two seasons under Farrell. In addition to the Yankees and Blue Jays, he has also been a coach for the Arizona Diamondbacks under current Baltimore Orioles manager Buck Showalter. He had worked with Showalter when Showalter managed the Yankees.
He enjoys working with Farrell.
“He lets you do your thing,” said Butterfield. “During spring training, we’d be up early having coffee and talking about situations [and how we would handle them]. He has been good to me.”
He has been to Fenway Park in an opposing uniform on several occasions and said there has always been an “electricity” in Fenway regardless of how the Red Sox are doing.
“Even if you’re coming into Fenway [tired] after being on the west coast, you don’t have any problem [getting up for the games],” said the 55-year-old Butterfield.
Butterfield, who lives in Standish with his wife Jan [Walton], won’t make any predictions about next season.
“I don’t know the club well enough,” said Butterfield, who added that he understands they have some good young players in the farm system.
He said it is a top-notch organization “so the expectations will be high.”
Butterfield was a three-sports star at Orono High and was the starting second baseman at the University of Maine his freshman season under his father, the late Jack Butterfield.
Jack Butterfield left the next year to become the head coach at the University of South Florida and Brian transferred to Florida Southern College.
Jack Butterfield was serving as the vice president of player development and scouting for the New York Yankees at the time of his death in an auto accident in 1979.