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Mike Shalin's Working Press: Don’t forget about DeMarlo Hale

By MIKE SHALIN
October 12. 2017 11:13PM

Feb 21, 2017; Dunedin, FL, USA; Toronto Blue Jays bench coach DeMarlo Hale (16) poses for a photo at Florida Auto Exchange Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Butch Dill-USA TODAY Sports 

Flashing back five years ago, colleague and pal Joe McDonald, then of ESPN.com and now with Boston Sports Journal (you should subscribe), wrote a column touting DeMarlo Hale for the then-vacant Red Sox managerial job that went to John Farrell.

Speaking of the candidates, which also included Brad Ausmus, McDonald wrote:

“While all are considered solid baseball people, the Red Sox should end their search and name Hale as their next manager.

“A former Red Sox third-base coach and bench coach under Terry Francona, Hale has the perfect down-to-earth baseball mentality. He understands the game in every aspect, but more importantly, he knows what it takes to win in Boston. He’s not flashy, but he knows the players and knows how to get the most out of them on a daily basis.

“Among this group of candidates, Hale is the most qualified for the Red Sox job.”

Flash forward five years and the feeling here is this: We know Ausmus was once hired by Dave Dombrowski, and Alex Cora’s name has been mentioned prominently, but why not Hale?

The Toronto bench coach is, in short, a quality baseball man who knows what life in Boston is all about.

We know minorities aren’t getting the proper respect when it comes to these jobs, and while Cora would certainly help that small number grow, Hale has put in his time and deserves a shot.

All Hale, DeMarlo!

Other choices

We mentioned Ausmus, who attended Dartmouth College while continuing his baseball career. When his name comes up, I can’t help but think of a “Fire Brad Ausmus” room on Facebook. Ausmus was let go by the Tigers after a painful season and you have to wonder if he wants to go from the frying pan of Detroit into the fire of Boston. Remember, Dombrowski, who didn’t say much at that press conference, did say there are guys who do not want to manage in places like Boston. I don’t think Ausmus is one of those guys but he is recycled material.

Cora, like Hale, deserves a shot and from everything you hear, he would be great with the media, a large part of the job in Boston.

The other names have included Jason Varitek, who has never managed but did run things on the field as a catcher and captain — but might not enjoy the media scrutiny. And there are Joe McEwing, Dave Martinez, Sandy Alomar, Ron Gardenhire … heck, Joe Girardi if he and the Yankees decided to part company.

Houston manager A.J. Hinch, when asked about Cora, his bench coach, said, “I’m happy for him that his name is being talked about. “It’s no surprise. He’s very talented. He’s interviewed for a few jobs before. He’s equipped to handle this job whenever somebody sees him as a fit. His relatability skills to players, his baseball intellect, all impressive. His transition to coaching has gone well and I think his name will always be in the middle of the conversation until the right fit is found. But he will manage. Not a doubt in my mind.”

The names that made me laugh a little were Jim Leyland, Joe Torre and Tony La Russa. I hate to sound ageist here but these three will be a combined 223 years old by mid-December. Leyland told Tony Massarotti the other day he’s all done, which is what he said after the WBC, and the other two, both Hall of Famers, don’t need the aggravation.

Bad taste

As if often the case when a sports divorce takes place, Wednesday’s split between Dombrowski and Farrell was awkward and much of it didn’t make sense.

Didn’t Dombrowski say — twice — that Farrell had done a “great” job? Did those words mean anything? Was this a fait accompli regardless of what happened in the postseason? These are things we will never know. The whole thing really might have come down to two things: the bottom line (advertising revenue and attendance were down) and Dombrowski perhaps wanting to bring in his own guy.

Look, the Farrell illness after Dombrowski’s arrival likely saved the skipper’s job back then. Then it might have been a case of waiting for the right time — and losing a second straight ALDS, with ALL of his starting pitchers laying huge eggs, Dombrowski felt THIS was the right time.

As far as him not answering enough questions at the press conference … do we really expect the man to answer questions about private conversations? Seriously?

Special for Girardi

The Yankee manager committed what one buddy of mine called a fire-able offense when he didn’t challenge that call in Cleveland. A media friend told me, “He’s lost that clubhouse, for sure. He’s gone.”

Well, Girardi admitted he “screwed up” and his clubhouse rallied for three straight wins, which has to mean something.

“It’s a totally different feeling than it was the other day. These guys have picked ME up,” he said after winning Game 5.

Francona, who has been anointed a Hall of Famer by some, was at the helm when the Red Sox rallied from 0-3 to beat the Yankees in 2004 and from 1-3 to defeat the Indians in 2007, has now managed a team that has lost three straight games, twice, in its last two postseason series.

Remember, the Indians led the Cubs 3-1 in last year’s World Series. Now this against the Yankees. In fact, Cleveland, which hasn’t won a World Series since 1948, has developed a tradition of sorts of not being able to close out series.

“We’re all deeply hurt but we got outplayed,” said Tito, who may or may not have sent an injured Corey Kluber to the mound in Game 5 Wednesday night.

The Tribe lost in five, but really lost the last four games, actually taking only Game 1 before Francona brought Trevor Bauer back on short rest. Andrew Miller lost a game with a home run ball, but we really only have to look at the Indians’ bats as the reason this went south. Check this out: Francisco Lindor, Carlos Santana, Jose Ramirez, Michael Brantley, Edwin Encarnacion, Jason Kipnis and Lonnie Chisenhall combined to bat .127 with 10 RBIs, four of those on Lindor’s grand slam that should not even have happened (after the Chisenhall’s foul ball strike 3 that was called a hit by pitch.)

In case you missed it, the Indians were 35-4 in their last 39 games after winning the first two games of their series. None of that mattered when they went 0-3 to end their 2017.

Fox post-game

I have to admit I thought it was cute when Fox trotted out David Ortiz to go with Alex Rodriguez, Keith Hernandez and Frank Thomas on its studio set. The byplay between Papi and A-Rod was funny at first, A-Rod flashing his 2009 World Series ring and Papi saying, “I got three in a safe.” But it got old quick. Very quick.

Still, it’s a pretty impressive panel in terms of career achievements.

Among the four, there’s 10,237 major league hits, 1,920 home runs and 6,629 RBIs. Hernandez, the “weakest” of the hitters — .296 with 162 homers, 1,071 RBIs and 2,182 hits — won 10 Gold Gloves.

Mike Shalin covers Boston pro sports for the New Hampshire Union Leader and Sunday News. His email address is shalinmike@yahoo.com.


Sports columns Patriots/NFL Red Sox/MLB Celtics/NBA Bruins/NHL

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