McAdam: Sveum's Sox past not an issue

McAdam: Sveum's Sox past not an issue
November 3, 2011, 2:28 am
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In his two seasons as third-base coach with Red Sox, Dale Sveum violated the cardinal rule of that particular job: he got noticed.

Like referees and offensive lineman, the goal of a third-base coach is to not draw attention to oneself.

But a series of aggressive decisions, in which Red Sox baserunners met with an unfortunate fate at the plate, put Sveum squarely in the crosshairs of fans and media.

Sveum left after the 2005 season to join the Milwaukee Brewers' coaching staff -- where he's been for the last six seasons -- but he's still recalled in Boston, not altogether fondly, for his job as the Sox' third-base coach.

The experience of winning a World Series in 2004 and a 95-win season in 2005 were terrific. Sveum called Boston "the ultimate place to ever be," in speaking with reporters after his day-long interview.

But the memories of the criticism linger and Sveum was (mostly) unapologetic.

"The thing about the passion of the fans here and the media," said Sveum, smiling at the memory, "it was kind of, I don't want to say it was comical, but if you do the same thing in Milwaukee, there's nothing really said about it. And don't get me wrong, I made a couple decisions that I'd like to have back and maybe a comment or two in the paper that I'd like to have back after Dave Roberts got thrown out in Tampa.

"I don't want to say it didn't faze me because I know my baseball knowledge and I know that most of those guys getting thrown out is just part of the game and how it all comes out and the dynamics and the odds of a guy throwing a ball that perfect to home from 250 feet away are very slim, and it just happened to happen quite a bit in a two-week span, I think it was."

The second-guessing and criticism that Sveum endured has led some to believe that the Red Sox would have a hard time hiring him as their new manager.

But if they weren't interested, they wouldn't have interviewed him. And new general manager Ben Cherington insisted that Sveum's performance as third-base coach wouldn't impact the team's thought process as it searches for a new manager.

How he performed in one job, Cherington pointed out, isn't relevant for another.

"I don't think so," said Cherington. "We wouldn't be hiring him as third-base coach. If we're signing or trading for a player who we think is going to do a really good job in right field, then we'd make a mistake making him a shortstop. I don't see how that's relevant.

"He's done a lot of different things in baseball. He's been a third-base coach, a bench coach, he's been a hitting coach, he's managed in the minors, he's obviously played for a long time. We're looking at the entire body of work."

In fact, to the contrary, Cherington hinted that the controversy that surrounded some of Sveum's decisions may actually work in his favor.

"In some ways," said Cherington, "I think his experience as a third-base coach is a benefit to him. He's been through some adversity in Boston and a lot of our candidates won't have been through that."