FORT MYERS, Fla. -- DeMarlo Hale is the new third base coach for the Baltimore Orioles, reunited with manager Buck Showalter (for whom he worked in Texas) and general manager Dan Duquette (who hired him in the Red Sox organization), and he's happy for the opportunity.
But Hale can't help but think about what might have been when he wasn't considered for the Red Sox managerial opening over the winter.
Red Sox management evidently thought they needed a clean break with anyone associated with former manager Terry Francona, and as such, Hale wasn't part of the process.
"I tried to be objective,'' said Hale before his new team took on his former team Tuesday afternoon. "With the changes that were happening and how they felt, I just wanted them to realize that although I was on Tito's staff for six years, if they felt I was similar in voice, I'm not.
"We have different personalities. We have respect for this game. With the things he accomplished here, you can't say it wasn't productive. But I do think I'm my own man, too. I just got sense they linked me to Tito as having the same voice. That was a little disappointing.''
It was bad enough that the Red Sox went 7-20 in September, coughing up a 9 12 game wild card lead. But when stories surfaced about misbehavior in the clubhouse, Hale understood that the Sox would be looking to change the culture and that would eliminate him from consideration.
"I sensed that,'' said Hale. "And I also thought if I was going to interview, I didn't want to go in there with a strike against me. I wanted to think it was fair and this is who I am. But after it took its course, I started to realize that that was a decision they had made.''
With no guarantee that he would be invited back on a new manager's staff, Hale had permission to seek other jobs.
"You start to look at things and that (window) becomes very small,'' said Hale. "I just didn't want to find myself in a position where I didn't have anything.''
When Bobby Valentine was hired, he spoke with Hale and offered him a position on his staff. At the time, however, it was unclear what that position would be as the Red Sox sorted through openings and candidates.
"At the time I spoke to them,'' recalled Hale, "they really couldn't define my position. They were trying to put a few things together. It was important for me to know where I was going. It was December. I reached out to some people I knew in the game and the Orioles' situation started to get some legs.
"I keep going back to how uncomfortable (Hale returning) would have been for Bobby Valentine as a manager. I started to see that maybe that might not be the most comfortable situation. And that's understandable and respectful. I sat back and had some time to think about what would be best for me, and I thought (the Orioles) would be best for me.''
Meanwhile, the Orioles have had 14 straight losing seasons and have their work cut out for them in the ultra-competitive American League East.
"The mindset is, on paper, (we can't compete),'' said Hale. ''But you have to do it between the lines. You can identify talent and this and that, but you have to play between the lines. I see where we're projected, but I don't a lot of weight on that. I see how these guys go about things and it's very refreshing. (The other stuff) isn't important. It's about competing.''