Diamondbacks infielder John McDonald checked in with Mut & Merloni on Tuesday to talk about his experience playing for new Red Sox manager John Farrell. McDonald, a Connecticut native and former Providence College standout, played under Farrell with the Blue Jays until being traded to Arizona late in the 2011 season.
McDonald said Farrell will bring stability to a Red Sox team that desperately is in need of it.
"[He's] a guy that has high expectations for players, a guy that can use his coaching staff, going to allow them to do their jobs, to help the players become successful. That's what I liked about John," McDonald said. "He's a guy at the top that wants to takes all these resources, and what he has in mind is to try to put the players in the best position to be successful. It never really seemed to be about him in the time I was with him in Toronto. It was collectively a group of guys in a room trying to figure out the best team to put on the field, how to prepare them the best way, and then allow them to go out there and do their jobs -- coaching-wise and player-wise."
McDonald lauded Farrell for his ability to communicate and understand players' perspectives.
"He's fair," McDonald said. "He played the game. He's seen it from all different angles. He's still learning. I heard him talk about that -- the learning process, what's he's learned over the last few years in Toronto, what he learned when he was in Boston. He's going to sit back and tell guys how they can get better behind closed doors, in his office, in the locker room, on the bench. I don't see him calling players out.
"He's a steady hand that doesn't get too high, doesn't get too low. The emotion stays close to the vest, unless it has to be shown. He's somebody that protects his players -- while I was there -- will go out on the field and fight for them. He's not going to show up players in the dugout. You leave that to other people. There's times when players need to do it, there's times when coaches need to do that. But as a manager, you look for that even-keeled man at the end of the bench that's not going to let you know when things are going bad and is not going to get too high when things are going good."
While Farrell might be more reserved, McDonald said Boston's new third base coach, Brian Butterfield, won't hesitate to let players know if he's unhappy with their effort.
"If you don't slide hard into second base, and it makes the third out of the inning if they turn a double play, he'll be sprinting out to second base to get the helmet from you -- not just to get the helmet, but to let you know that he's not happy with you, that you didn't do a good enough job getting into second base, you didn't try to divert that throw," McDonald said. "The last thing you want to do with Brian Butterfield at third base is to peel off and to be peeling off into right field when somebody's making a double play. He'd rather you head butt the ball into right field."
Butterfield also is known for his sense of humor, but McDonald said players have to be willing to work hard to enjoy the coach's lighter side.
"He just wants to be out on a baseball field preparing guys to win a ballgame, and he has a lot of fun doing it," McDonald said. "You watch him during batting practice, hitting ground balls. When you're going good, as an infielder, when you're fielding the ball really well during batting practice and making all the plays, he has a lot of fun with you. But if you're not there mentally, he's going to let you know. He's going to let you know in a way that you'll respond, to kick yourself in the butt and start getting prepared, because you've got a big league game to prepare for and it's important. … He wants you to take ground balls with a purpose. And when you do that, it's an awful lot of fun, because he has a great way of allowing it to be that much more fun when you're doing it with a purpose."