By Maureen Mullen
Hitting coach Dave Magadan, like most of the Red Sox coaching staff, is in a holding pattern. Magadan met with Sox senior vice presidentassistant general manager Ben Cherington, then talked with GM Theo Epstein on Friday to discuss his future with the team.
Basically, theyre really happy with the job Ive done, Magadan said. Theyre going to give the new manager their highest recommendation on me. But they cant guarantee anything as far as me being back until they know who the new manager is going to be.
Epstein said on Sept. 30, during the press conference announcing the departure of manager Terry Francona from the team, that the new manager would be given license to hire his own staff.
Its always the case when you hire a new manager that not every member of the coaching staffs job is secure, that you always want to make sure the manager has the ability to bring in some of his own guys, Epstein said then. So, I told the coaches how much I appreciate their effort and theyre going to get my strong recommendation in many cases to the new manager but that we cant have final resolution on the coaching staff until we get the new manager in place.
Magadan, who has a year plus an option year remaining on his contract, is happy he will get that endorsement. First base coach Ron Johnson and staff assistant Rob Leary, whose contracts were up at the end of the 2011 season, were told last week they would not be asked to return.
Magadan, who turned 49 on Sept. 30, joined the Sox in 2007, after serving in the same capacity for parts of four seasons with the Padres, from 2003 until being let go in June 2006. He hasnt been in this kind of a limbo before.
No, I was in San Diego for three and half years and I ended up getting let go in the middle of the 2006 season, so there was no limbo there, he said.
Sox batters have thrived under his guidance. In his first four seasons, the Sox led baseball cumulatively in walks, doubles, and extra-base hits, were second in average (.274), on-base percentage (.353), slugging percentage (.449), runs, RBI, total bases, hits, and home runs.
In 2011, Sox batters led the majors in runs scored (875), hits (1,600), doubles (352), total bases (2,631), RBI (842), on-base percentage (.349), and slugging percentage (.461), were second in average (.280), and third in home runs (203).
But, as with just about every facet of the Sox on-field performance in September, the hitters also had their challenges. The Sox hit .280 in September, including .280 with runners in scoring position. But, on their way to a record of 7-20 in the month, the Sox won four games scoring at least 12 runs. Taking those four games out of the equation, the Sox hit just .218 with runners in scoring position.
But, after starting the season 0-6 and 2-10, Magadan figured the Sox would eventually snap out of their September slide.
I think that was kind of the thinking, he said. You can have all the meetings in the world, and you can yell at guys and rant and rave in the dugout, do all the things that fans like to see, but we turned things around after those first 12 games and we turned things around by playing up to our potential, playing good fundamental baseball. So I think whenever we hit a bump in the road during the season, you always go back to that and you have the belief that things were going to turn around because youve got talent and you feel like youve got the people who can turn things around, and they always did, especially after the start we had.
So I think we just kept looking for that and certainly you can always look back and think about doing things differently because of the way it turned out. But it was almost like it was a snowball rolling down the mountain, and it got so big it got to the point where nothing was going to stop it.
So you can always look back, hindsight is 20-20, but i think we all got to bear some responsibility for what happened, players, coaches, front office, manager. I think thats the way you got to approach.
Magadan said working for Francona was a hitting coachs dream. But considering the Sox September collapse, hes not surprised the Sox and Francona have parted ways. He had braced himself to not be surprised by anything that was going to happen.
I absolutely think the world of Tito and he was a hitting coachs dream, Francona said. But, if you made a list of things that could happen after the way we played, I think everythings kind of followed suit. But its unfortunate. Hes a guy that brought a lot of winning to Boston. Along with some other people, he changed the way people think about the Red Sox.
Its been a difficult stretch for Magadan. His mother had been ill the last few weeks of the season and passed away the day after the season ended.
Now he must wait for a new manager to be hired. Magadan does not know who that manager will be. But, he knows who hed like to get a shot.
Obviously, Id like to see Sox bench coach DeMarlo Hale get the opportunity, he said. I think he deserves it.
Several teams, including the Braves, As, and White Sox, have hitting coach openings. Magadan did not want to comment on those possibilities, preferring to keep his focus on the Red Sox.