- Joe McDonald, Reporter, ESPNBoston.com
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BOSTON -- The relationship between a manager and his bench coach is critical to a team's success, and if there are any issues it can have a negative effect.
The Boston Red Sox learned that first-hand in 2012 as former manager Bobby Valentine seemed to alienate his coaching staff, with whom he had little or no communication during much of the season.
The duties and responsibilities of bench coaches in the big leagues are similar. But the coach-manager relationship is unique, and it's the ability of both men to work together seamlessly that will help a team enjoy success.
New Sox manager John Farrell and bench coach Torey Lovullo already have a strong relationship. Their positive communication skills and confidence in each other should make for an improved landscape in 2013.
"His ability to make decisions in game, and his decision-making ability overall are one of the main reasons I think he'll be a very effective coach on the bench," Farrell said.
Lovullo will coordinate and run spring training. Once the season begins, he will control the running game. Farrell also expects his bench coach to manage the game in his mind and to communicate about key situations before the game speeds up on both of them.
Even during Friday's conference call to officially introduce Lovullo as the newest bench coach, he and Farrell were feeding off of each other's answers and thoughts, demonstrating their working knowledge of one another.
"The relationship we've formed is pretty unique," Lovullo said. "We've developed a natural confidence in one another. I can look over at John and, at times, get a feel for him by watching his reactions for what he's thinking and what he's doing. That will be an advantage for me being in the dugout with him and I think we'll be able to challenge one another, inspire one another and it'll be my job to sit there and think like he is to the best of my ability. That relationship we've had over the years is going to be a natural fit for us to move forward in that area."
During the game, as Farrell is trying to anticipate a certain situation, Lovullo admitted it's his job to make sure nothing gets overlooked and to offer suggestions.
"I'm there to forecast with him and project with him and allow him to go back and forth through the moment," Lovullo said. "If he's working on a pitching move, I might be able to forecast what a hitting move might be in two innings from that time. That's a natural thought process for the bench coach to manage the game with the manager."
While he served as the first-base coach in Toronto under Farrell, Lovullo would study how the manager worked and the two would always talk before, during and after games about particular aspects.
"We will be able to hit the ground running and move forward pretty quickly," Lovullo said.
Since this is his first bench coaching job, Lovullo said he will do all the research possible before spring training. That includes talking to former and current bench coaches and managers with whom he has relationships.
"I want to make sure I get it right," Lovullo said. "I think I'll be able to have comfortable conversations and challenging conversations with John as we try to move forward and get things as good as we possibly can.
"Are we going to make every decision perfectly right? Am I going to make every suggestion that's going to hit John just right? Absolutely not, but that's something John and I will be able to work through and challenge one another as we move forward."
In addition to his strong relationship with Farrell, Lovullo brings other assets to the Red Sox. Lovullo spent one season as Boston's Triple-A manager in Pawtucket during the 2010 season, giving him instant credibility with the players he managed then that are now playing in the big leagues. Lovullo will get to know the rest of the Sox, and serve as a liaison between the players and Farrell.
Hopefully, in 2013, better communication in the clubhouse will go hand-in-hand with more victories on the field.
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