PAWTUCKET, R.I. -- Gary DiSarcina is home.
During an introductory press conference Friday afternoon at McCoy Stadium, DiSarcina was officially named the newest manager of the Pawtucket Red Sox, the Triple-A affiliate of the Boston Red Sox.
DiSarcina, 45, is a native of Billerica, Mass., and spent 12 seasons in the big leagues with the California and Anaheim Angels. After his career ended in 2002 as a player with the PawSox, it didn’t take long for the Red Sox to hire DiSarcina. He eventually managed the Single-A Spinners for three seasons (2007-2009) and he’ll use that experience to help him manage at Triple-A.
When asked what he learned in Lowell, his answer was an easy one: “That I could do it. That was probably the most important thing I learned that I could do it. The day I managed my first game I was nervous as hell. I walked into that dugout and I was nervous. The nerves went away after that first pitch. I don’t care how many years you played in the big leagues, how many years you played in the minor leagues, that first managing gig, you’re nervous.”
While managing in Lowell, DiSarcina helped the Spinners to a 125-99 record during his three seasons there.
He returned to the Angels organization in 2010 as a minor league field coordinator and was recently promoted to special assistant to Angels general manager Jerry Dipoto.
The Red Sox needed to hire a Triple-A manager and thought DiSarcina would be the perfect guy. Red Sox GM Ben Cherington asked the Angels for permission and that ultimately led to his hiring.
“From the day he left we were trying to figure out a way to bring him back,” Cherington said. “He’s a guy we have a lot of respect for. It was hard for him because he has loyalty to both organizations. He was a player in the Angels’ organization and he has loyalty to that organization. I think he’s loyal to the Red Sox, too, because this where he started his post-playing career, and obviously he’s local.
“We were looking for someone to go to Triple-A who understood our core philosophy, understood what it’s like to be in Boston, to play in Boston and what preparing players to play in Boston was all about, someone we trusted and someone we’ve worked with in the past, so we looked at a number of candidates but we felt like if we could get him back, he would be the right guy and we’re fortunate that we could do that.”
DiSarcina has a close relationship with Red Sox manager John Farrell. He was also a teammate of current Red Sox bench coach Torey Lovullo while the two played for the Angels. DiSarcina also has a solid relationship with Red Sox first-base coach Arnie Beyeler, who helped out when DiSarcina managed Single-A Lowell. Beyeler managed the Triple-A PawSox last season and was promoted to the big club this fall.
While he was still with the Angels last season, DiSarcina was asked to fill in as manager of the Double-A team in August for four games.
“The bug got me,” DiSarcina said. “The first day I was nervous a little bit, but the second, third, fourth day I was comfortable. I missed the daily interaction with players. I missed watching them walk in the door and being excited to be there. I just missed being around players.”
DiSarcina felt the spark and he wanted it more of it.
“I’m very excited,” he said. “I’m excited to be back.”
He dealt with a number injuries in the latter stages of the pro career and played two years at the Triple-A level in the Angels’ organization. Being a Massachusetts native and growing up a Red Sox fan, DiSarcina wanted one last shot at playing for the hometown team.
The Red Sox signed him as a minor league free agent in 2002.
Ironically, DiSarcina ended his playing career with the PawSox. On Friday, he stood at his former locker in the PawSox clubhouse and recalled what it was like for him that season
“It was just tough,” he said. “You hear about Triple-A players, the minor-league free agents that come over, and they’re struggling and they’re hanging on, they have families and their wives want them to move on with their life. Being on that side of it, being 33-years-old with seven surgeries, two major shoulder surgeries and trying to hang on and trying to get back up to the big leagues.
“The ultimate goal for me, I grew up in Billerica, I wanted to play in Boston at Fenway Park. I never had that chance, but I tried.”
On July 15, 2002, DiSarcina walked off the field at McCoy Stadium and made the decision to retire. Cherington was the farm director then and afterward wrote a hand-written letter to DiSarcina.
“He thanked me for going to mini-camp, going to minor-league camp and being a professional,” explained DiSarcina. “I remember at the end of the note, he basically said, ‘You’ll always have a home here as long as I’m here.’ That’s the type of person you’re dealing with and you don’t forget those things as a player.”