Butterfield experiences wide range of emotions
Coach happy to be back with Jays even if it's not as manager
As Brian Butterfield sat in his car, listening to Blue Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos speak on Friday, a feeling of disappointment washed over him. The long-time Toronto coach was not going to be the club's new manager.
Anthopoulos explained that the job was instead being given to Red Sox pitching coach John Farrell, and Butterfield was hit hard by that news. As Butterfield headed to his home in Maine, however, he quickly experienced a reversal in reaction. The Blue Jays wanted him back on the coaching staff, and that swiftly brought satisfaction.
"It's funny," Butterfield said during a phone conversation on Wednesday afternoon. "My wife was in the car and obviously she could see the disppointment when I was told about the situation. But, then she noticed right away I had an upbeat tone. That was nice."
Butterfield -- a coach and infield instructor for the Blue Jays for the past nine years -- had a strong desire to become the 12th manager in franchise history. The 52-year-old coach had prepared himself for the possibility that the job might go to someone else, and so Butterfield also prepped for life beyond the Blue Jays.
Prior to receiving the call from Anthopoulos, Butterfield thought long and hard about his options. In the end, even with other job options likely available with other teams, the coach felt that staying in Toronto was what he really wanted. So Butterfield was thrilled when Anthopoulos and Farrell expressed their wish to retain him as Toronto's third-base coach.
"You don't always get what you want," said Butterfield, referring to his hope of being named manager. "But it was a quick turnaround in the way I felt about this whole thing, just because of the people involved. I've learned through the years that the people you work with are so important.
"I've always been consumed with wanting to win a championship and I feel like the direction of the organization is spiraling upward. And there's some awful good people there -- and that includes the players. I want to keep doing this thing with them."
Butterfield did not feel it was appropriate to ask Anthopoulos why Farrell was picked over him. It was a moot point anyway, with Butterfield agreeing to remain on the Blue Jays' coaching staff. All Butterfield is interested in knowing now is more about Farrell, and that process began when the coach received a call from the new manager not long after speaking with Anthopoulos.
"I wasn't home but 15 minutes and the phone rang and it was John Farrell," Butterfield said. "It was great. We talked for about 20 minutes and he expressed the same thing as Alex. We just had a very nice conversation. I was very impressed. That made me feel good.
"John Farrell is a guy that I don't know that well, but I've always had great respect for him being on the other side. Everybody in this industry that has spoken about John to me has spoken very favorably."
That includes former Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling, who speaks frequently with Butterfield. When Farrell's name first came up as one of the final candidates for the opening in Toronto, Schilling told Butterfield that the Blue Jays were interviewing a great person.
"Curt said, 'Regardless of what happens, John Farrell is a guy that you'd love to work for,'" Butterfield recalled. "He said, 'He's a man's man.' He actually called him 'overqualified' to be a manager. That's how much he thinks of John Farrell.
"I've always had great admiration for Curt as a friend and as a player. Anything that he has to say favorably about another coach is good by me."
Butterfield chose not to comment on rumors that he had a coaching job awaiting him in Baltimore, where his good friend Buck Showalter is manager of the Orioles. Due to his decision to stay with the Blue Jays, Butterfield did not believe discussing other opportunities was relevant.
"I'd just rather not even comment on it," Butterfield said. "I will say this: Buck and I are very good friends and I think that through all this, the one thing that I have always been confident in is, Buck would always be a guy who would support any decision I made. I still feel that way."
Butterfield said he had received lots of "uplifting" voicemails and text messages from Toronto's players throughout the process. He appreciated that his son, John, said it showed a lot that Butterfield stuck with the Blue Jays, and Butterfield called his wife, Jan, "wise" for her words of support along the way.
The bottom line is -- despite the initial disappointment -- Butterfield is exactly where he wants to be.
"I'm a Blue Jay," he said.