FORT MYERS, Fla. — The Red Sox
take on the Twins Thursday night in their Grapefruit League
opener. (The game, which will be played at Minnesota’s newly-renovated/renamed spring training complex, CenturyLink Sports Complex, can be heard on the WEEI Sports Radio Network immediately following the Hot Stove Show: Spring Training Edition. It all starts at 6 p.m.)
For Joe Kelly, it will be an opportunity to take the mound for the first time this spring. For Jackie Bradley, the meeting allows for a chance to take advantage of not having to share time with Rusney Castillo while the Cuban outfielder recovers from a strained left oblique. And for Torey Lovullo, it is a reminder of what almost was.
Lovullo was the finalist for the Twins manager job, which ultimately went to Paul Molitor. By all accounts, it was a decision that came right down to the end of the process, with Molitor’s ties with the organization perhaps offering the ultimate advantage.
“I have nothing but the utmost respect for that whole group that’s in their front office. I had great interactions,” Lovullo said of the Twins’ decision-makers, which was led by general manager Terry Ryan. “I learned a lot. I learned a lot about them. I know they’re going to be pushing in the right direction.
“When it goes as far as it did and you’re one of the final two, you’re no longer a 10 percent chance because you’re one of 10. Now it’s 50-50. You start to feel a little bit better and allow yourself to say, ‘You know what, I’ve done my job in executing my thoughts to them and it’s working so let’s keep going.’ There was a process that kept going all the way until Paul Molitor was named as manager that made me feel like I had a real legitimate chance.”
Lovullo flew out to Minnesota for his initial injury, but was then forced to conduct a follow-up get-together with the Twins’ brass — including owner Jim Pohlad — near his Southern California home after undergoing hip surgery.
“The common question is if I thought I really thought I had a chance because of Paul Molitor’s reputation and connection with the organization. Yeah, because I was told I did and I believed the front office and legitimately I felt like it was a very fair race that I just lost,” Lovullo explained.
The process wasn’t foreign for Lovullo, who has now interviewed for six managerial openings — Dodgers, Indians, Red Sox, Rangers, Astros, Twins. (Note: he would have undoubtedly interviewed with the Cubs prior to the 2014 season if not for an agreement made following Theo Epstein‘s departure preventing non-uniformed personnel moving from the Red Sox to Chicago.)
While Lovullo was considered one of the finalists for the Astros position, it was the Twins job he feels was the closest to becoming a reality.
“I think I’ll just continue to talk about the things that are important to me and be open and honest,” he said. “I feel at times that might work against me because I’m honest to a fault and when they ask me the question I don’t want to hide anything. I think that’s the right way to approach that.
“A lot of people have asked me if I would have done anything different. I wouldn’t have changed a thing over the course of those three interviews. I felt a lot of respect for all the people I sat down with last year. It just didn’t match. I’m not here to fast forward anything. I just want to enjoy where I’m at right now. When and if the time comes I do get that job I’ll be ready for that challenge.”