Coaches behind Red Sox's success
Victorino, Pedroia credit work with Beyeler, Butterfield for Gold Glove defense
While it's a testament to their individual play, they both were more interested in winning a World Series with their teammates. Less than a month after beating the St. Louis Cardinals in the Fall Classic, Pedroia and Victorino attended the Gold Glove ceremony in New York City, and they both wanted to share their accomplishment with the men who helped them get there.
Members of manager John Farrell's coaching staff have many responsibilities throughout the season. First-base coach Arnie Beyeler works tirelessly with all the outfielders. He hits them fly balls and fungoes on a daily basis. He helps position them during the game and perform countless other duties.
When Victorino was informed he won the Gold Glove, the fourth of his career, he knew right away who he was going to invite as a guest. He also had a unique way of extending the invitation to Beyeler.
During a game late in the season, Victorino reached first base, handed his batting gloves to Beyeler and said, "Congratulations." Beyeler had no idea what he was talking about until Victorino informed him of his award and invited him to attend the dinner and ceremony at The Plaza Hotel in New York City.
Victorino purchased a first-class ticket for Beyeler, who bought a new suit for the November event.
"It was unbelievable," Beyeler said. "First, kind of the way he broke the news to me was just cool, and his style. Going up there, me being a baseball fan my whole life, then getting to go, it was like a walking Hall of Fame. It was unbelievable. It was real neat to keep seeing those guys going up there and getting their awards and being around the elite of the elite. It was pretty cool, like a dream."
Beyeler spent 26 years coaching and managing in the minors before earning a spot on Farrell's staff in 2013.
"The whole season, everything, was storybook for me," Beyeler said.
When the Red Sox signed Victorino as a free agent prior to the 2013 season, the veteran outfielder had spent the majority of his career in center field. In Boston, the Red Sox needed him to play right field, since Jacoby Ellsbury was the starting center fielder. Victorino made the transition seamlessly and defended the vast right-field real estate at Fenway Park with great success.
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It's not an easy position to play because of all the space and nooks and crannies. Almost every day, Beyeler helped Victorino, and all the other outfielders, in any way possible. So Victorino credited Beyeler as the key to his winning the Gold Glove.
"I knew I could bring a guest and I would have loved to have brought my wife, but she wasn't able to attend, and even if my wife was able to attend, I was going to bring Arnie anyway," Victorino said. "Collectively, we wanted to make him feel special because a lot of the work we did together was due to his credit, so making him feel a part of it was why I wanted to tell him a certain way and make him feel a big part of this and why I won my Gold Glove.
"A lot of my credit is due to the work we did out there together," Victorino added. "People factored in the part of playing at Fenway, and everyone talked about how hard it is to play right field there, so you factor all that in, and the work we put in from day one of spring training until the end of the playoffs is all a credit to him and the work that we did. Doing something like that, for me, is a no-brainer."
Pedroia felt the same way about third-base coach Brian Butterfield, and the All-Star second baseman extended the invitation for Butterfield to join him at the ceremony.
Butterfield is in charge of the Red Sox infielders, and like Beyeler, he spends countless hours watching video and studying advance scouting reports. He presents all that information to the infielders before, during and even after games.
"He's a huge part of it," Pedroia said. "I really didn't ask him, I told him he was coming. I was just making the plays; he was the one putting me in the spot."
When Pedroia invited Butterfield and his wife, Jan, to the ceremony, they were honored to attend.
"My wife was just outside herself," Butterfield said. "She couldn't believe how first-class it was. We landed and we were thinking about getting a taxi to the hotel, and there's a limo guy with a sign waiting on us. My wife says, 'Wow. This is really big league.' Then we get to the place, and we're reading the itinerary and we're not sure where the ceremony is going to be, and an hour before the ceremonies, there's a knock on our door."
It was Pedroia and his wife, Kelli.
"They brought us a gift to the room and said, 'Let's go down there together.' Kelli treated Jan like they were sorority sisters. She was so impressed with Kelli, so sweet, and Pedey was great," Butterfield said.
Each award winner sat at a table with his guests and a former Gold Glove winner. Sitting next to Beyeler and Victorino were Johnny Bench and Willie Mays. Former Yankees All-Star and Gold Glove winner Bobby Richardson sat with Pedroia and his guests.
"You look around and you're like, 'Holy [expletive],'" Victorino said of all the former winners.
On each table, the centerpiece was a small replica of each award winner's trophy. When the ceremony was over, Pedroia gave his to Butterfield.
The day after the event, Butterfield and his wife were leaving the hotel and the limo was waiting to take them to the airport.
"It was unbelievable," Butterfield said. "We were honored to be there with him. I hope we do it another 20 times. It meant an awful lot. I feel so blessed to be able to wear the same uniform as him and watch him play the game every day. And I don't have to pay to get into the ballpark. I feel like I'm cheating or something."
As Pedroia prepared for another day of spring training drills Monday morning at JetBlue Park, the veteran made sure to also mention the rest of the coaching staff, because he believes they all deserve credit for the team's success in 2013. Pedroia made sure to mention bench coach Torey Lovullo, pitching coach Juan Nieves, bullpen coach Dana LeVangie, and hitting coaches Greg Colbrunn and Victor Rodriguez.
"They're huge," Pedroia said. "I don't think people realize how much time they put in and what they do. They don't have their name on the everyday lineup, but probably one of the most important things is the way they prepare and how they prepare us.
"Butter's there longer than I am every day, so is Arnie, so is John, so it Torey, so is Juan -- everybody. Those guys work their tails off. When one of us gets an individual award, we all feel that they're a huge part of it."