BOSTON, Mass. — It was past midnight and Orono native Brian Butterfield was watching television in his hotel room after a game in Toronto.
Butterfield, the third base coach for the Boston Red Sox, heard someone sliding a key card in the slot in his hotel room door.
He figured somebody had misread the number on his door or their key card. The deadbolt prevented the person from entering his room.
“Wrong room,” shouted Butterfield.
The voice outside the door said, “It’s me, Pedey.”
Pedey is the nickname given to Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia.
“I thought he might have been sleep-walking,” said Butterfield, who opened up his door.
The next thing he knew, 25 players were pig-piling on him on his bed.
“Jake Peavy’s back was touching the ceiling,” quipped Butterfield.
The hijinks capped an evening that epitomizes this tight-knit Boston Red Sox team as it prepares to open the World Series on Wednesday night in Boston.
“All 25 players went to dinner together, which you don’t often see. And then they finagled my room key from someone at the front desk. It was pretty cool,” said Butterfield, a former three-sport star at Orono High School and the starting second baseman at the University of Maine his freshman year.
The 56-year-old Butterfield is in his first season with the Red Sox. He came to the Red Sox from Toronto with manager John Farrell and bench coach Torey Lovullo.
This is his 29th year as a coach or manager in professional baseball and he will be making his first appearance in the World Series.
“I feel blessed,” said Butterfield.
He said this current Red Sox team is “the best group I have ever been around. They’re great guys.
“They’re resilient and they’re tough. They have a lot of character,” said Butterfield, who is the son of the late Jack Butterfield, a former UMaine baseball coach who went on to become a vice president of player development for the Yankees.
“Pedroia played the first month and a half of the season with one hand. He hurt his hand in the first game and a doctor in New York suggested that he have surgery. He said, ‘No way’. And I haven’t hit [first baseman] Mike Napoli any ground balls since September because of his plantar fasciitis and his hip,” pointed out Butterfield, who is also the infield instructor.
Pedroia has a torn ligament in his left thumb that will require surgery after the season. Napoli’s plantar fasciitis pertains to an inflammation of tissue that connects the heel bone to the toes.
Butterfield said the Red Sox are baseball junkies.
“When you walk into the clubhouse, they’re all talking about baseball,” said Butterfield, who lives in Standish with wife, Jan (Walton).
He also said when game time is approaching, they’re all business.
“You won’t find them on their iPads or iPhones an hour or an hour and a half before a game,” said Butterfield. “It’s all about winning and playing the game right.”
The third base coach can be heavily scrutinized. It is his responsibility to be the eyes of the base-runners and either wave them along or stop them.
If a runner gets thrown out at third or the plate at a crucial time in a game, the onus can be on the third base coach.
“I don’t really think there’s going to be more pressure in the World Series,” said Butterfield. “I put a lot of pressure on myself. I don’t feel any differently. You just have to do the best job you can.”
The Red Sox don’t have much speed outside of major league base-stealing leader Jacoby Ellsbury, who stole 52 bases in 56 attempts during the regular season, and Shane Victorino, who stole 21 in 24 attempts. Pedroia was 17-for-22.
But Butterfield feels his team runs the bases well.
“They make up for it through good instincts and effort,” said Butterfield, who grew up a Boston sports fan.
One of the prime examples was Napoli racing home from third on a wild pitch in game five of their American League Championship Series in Detroit. That proved to be the winning run as Boston won 4-3 and took a 3-2 lead before clinching the best-of-seven series at Boston’s Fenway Park with a 5-2 win on Saturday night.
Butterfield said Napoli, a catcher by trade, has transformed himself into a potential Gold Glove first baseman through his work ethic.
Another infielder who has made a noteworthy contribution of late is 21-year-old rookie infielder Xander Bogaerts, who replaced the slumping Will Middlebrooks at third base in the ALCS and went 3-for-6 with three walks and four runs scored.
Bogaerts, who played for Aruba in the Senior League World Series at Bangor’s Mansfield Stadium in 2009, began the season with the Double-A Portland Sea Dogs.
“He is a good kid who is mature beyond his years,” said Butterfield, who has spent a lot of time helping Bogaerts make the adjustment from shortstop to third base. “One of the reasons John has played him is he hasn’t been overwhelmed. He is relaxed in the field and at the plate.”
Butterfield said general manager Ben Cherington and assistant GM Mike Hazen did an “unbelievable job” assembling the team in the offseason and added that Farrell has done an “outstanding job” managing the Red Sox, who are sporting postseason beards.
“I tried to grow one but it didn’t look good. My mother [Pat] suggested that I get rid of it. And I’m still afraid of my mother,” joked Butterfield.
Butterfield gets to Fenway Park around 6 a.m. these days and watches a lot of video on the Cardinals, as does first base coach Arnie Beyeler. The coaching staff will meet with the advance scouts, who will give them further information about the Cardinals.
“The Cardinals have some outstanding arms and they play the game right,” said Butterfield, noting that they are very sound fundamentally. “It should be a great series.”