Butterfield ready for third-base coach responsibility

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Butterfield ready for third-base coach responsibility

FORT MYERS, Fla. - It has been said that perhaps the only tougher job in baseball than coaching third base for the Red Sox is managing the Red Sox. But, there are some who arent certain those are in the right order.

Brian Butterfield, the Sox new third base coach, knows whats ahead of him, and he knows it will be a challenge.

One of the benefits that Ive had, I grew up in New England, said Butterfield, a native of Maine. Dad (the late Jack Butterfield, who served as vice president of player development and scouting for the Yankees) used to take me to a lot of games. So I went to a lot of games at Fenway, watched a lot of games on TV. I almost feel like Ive been a member of the Red Sox for a long time.

And then being in the division for the last 11, 12 years, Ive had an opportunity to coach third for over 100 times at Fenway in my career. So I feel comfortable. There are some tough spots, but there are also some forgiving spots. We really feel like right field is the best two-base field in baseball, because theres so much area out there. Right fielders have to play a little bit deeper. Its a great first-to-third field and a great second-to-home field. So left field is the toughest two-base field and right field is I think the best two-base field in all of baseball. So the tough parts are offset by some easier parts. The one thing as a coach you always want to keep sight of the ball and that left field corner can be tough because that jut-out with the stands.

Butterfield knows previous Red Sox third base coaches have had a difficult time. Its part of the job with any team. Third base coaches are a lot like umpires. Fans dont notice them until something goes wrong.

Ive watched for years, and fair or unfair, sometimes it can be a very unfair position, he said. Because, for me, I still think to this day that Dale Sveum is an outstanding third base coach. I really do. Hes a guy that Ive had a lot of conversations with and I think that he takes great positioning. Hes a great decision maker. But thats the nature of the beast.

"And I think that just like players, through time you develop tough skin. You may have well-laid intentions but then the defense executes and you get a guy thrown out. And were going to get guys thrown out because good baserunning teams, aggressive baserunning teams run into outs. So you cant worry about it too much, you just got to keep moving forward and keep pressing, and thats what we try to encourage players. Im going to make some bad decisions, but Ive got to learn to flush it and move on and keep pressing the issue.

Butterfield is also responsible for the baserunning game. With an entirely new coaching staff working with a new group of players, baserunning signs have to be revised and reinvented often.

It takes a little while, he said. I know over the last five years as a third base coach, there's always guys being traded, guys who move on to other clubs, and theres things that you have to change. Well, this year, I feel like Ive had to change just about everything that Ive done offensively. So its going to be an adjustment period for me feeling good. But thats what spring training is for, feeling good about getting my signs, plus imparting to them what were going to do.

Boston pitchers strike out 14, but Red Sox still fall to Rays, 7-3

Boston pitchers strike out 14, but Red Sox still fall to Rays, 7-3

The appearance of Tampa Bay Rays lefty Ryan Yarbrough almost got the Boston Red Sox back in their spring training exhibition game. The Sox managed to score all three of their runs against the 25-year-old in their 7-3 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays at Charlotte Sports Park in Port Charlotte, Florida on Sunday.

But the Rays, who scored runs in five different innings, managed to widen their lead in the eighth inning by beating up on Sox lefty Luis Isla, a 24-year-old who spent last season with Portland and Pawtucket. In the eighth, Rays' Joe McCarthy homered and Luke Maile managed an RBI single, which cappped off the scoring in the contest. Sox starter Hector Velazquez allowed three hits and an earned run in his two innnings. The 28-year-old, who spent 2016 in the Mexican League, still managed to amass four strikeouts.

"I was a little nervous at the start, being in the United States for the first time and playing for a big league club for the first time," Velazquez told RedSox.com through an interpreter. "But once I got the first out, all the nerves went away, and I was able to bear down."

Despite allowing two homers, Boston pitchers combined for 14 strikeouts.

With the exception of the Sox' inning against Yarbrough, Boston's veterans and prospects struggled mighltily against the Rays pitching staff. Chris Archer started for Tampa, and set the tone in the first two innings, where he threw two strikeouts, one walk and allowed one hit and no runs. Andrew Benintendi (0-for-3), Sam Travis (0-for-2) and Bryce Brentz (0-for-3) went hitless on the day. Travis, however, reached base on balls.

"I felt good. I accomplished what I wanted to accomplish," Archer said, via the Red Sox' team website. "Just out there having fun, it was really fun to be out there in the spectrum with the umpire, the fans, the batter. It was fun."

Marco Hernandez's triple got the Sox' eighth-inning off to a strong start, and singles from Matt Dominguez, Deven Marrero, Rusney Castillo and Cole Sturgeon followed. The Sox' eighth inning scoring ended after Castillo got thrown out by left fielder McCarthy at third. Six Red Sox finished with one-hit outings, including Brock Holt and Blake Swihart.

The Sox will next host the St. Louis Cardinals in Fort Myers on Monday at 1:05 p.m. ET.