BOSTON -- Red Sox bench coach Tim Bogar has been accepted to graduate school, and his courses for a master's degree in baseball have already begun.
Bogar, 45, enters his fourth year with the Red Sox after serving as the club's third-base coach the past two seasons and as the first-base coach in 2009. The former big leaguer was recently named as manager Bobby Valentine's bench coach for 2012.
Sitting next to Valentine in the dugout every game will no doubt be a valuable learning experience for Bogar, who hopes to one day manage in the big leagues.
"First of all, it's a situation where I get to be next to Bobby and I get to learn a lot from somebody who has been through a lot," Bogar told ESPNBoston.com during a phone interview on Friday. "He's obviously been in a lot of different situations and has a lot of knowledge in those situations. I'm looking forward to being able to work next to him."
While Valentine was a baseball analyst for ESPN last season, during one of the Red Sox broadcasts the camera panned the field and settled on Bogar in the third-base coach's box. Valentine gave his assessment of Bogar, who played for Valentine during the 1996 season in New York.
"One of my former pupils," Valentine said. "He's a very good baseball man and future manager at the big league level, no doubt."
Even though Valentine has been on the job in Boston for exactly one month, it's already evident he likes to surround himself with people he trusts. Bogar wouldn't be sitting next to him otherwise.
"I respect and I'm greatly humbled that he would say something like that," Bogar said. "When somebody says you're going to manage in the big leagues, there's only 30 of those jobs, that says a lot to think that much of me. That part of it is something that you never know if it's going to happen. You work every day to get better and better at this job, keep watching the games and learning and try to be the best you can be to help these players be in a position to win. That's what I'm trying to do and that's what I'm trying to learn. Hopefully, this year, with Bobby's help it'll go well."
Before Valentine promoted Bogar to bench coach, the manager recently admitted that he spoke with him numerous times about the composition of the coaching staff in Boston, and also wanted to know what his career goals were.
"I wanted to know where he was in his baseball career and what his vision for his future was," Valentine said. "When I mentioned the possibility of bringing in some other bench coaches, and possibly giving a 40-something guy the opportunity to sit with me, and work with me and even possibly someday further his career as a managerial candidate and a manger, Tim impressed upon me his desire to be just that guy.
"Not only was there a desire that was expressed, he convinced me he was ready, able and willing to do as good of a job as anyone else out there. So I was really confident after talking to Tim that the right thing for him, and for the organization, was to get him in the dugout and working by my side."
While with the Tampa Bay Rays in 2008, Bogar more or less served as an intern bench coach/manager, even though his official title was quality assurance coach. That experience led to Bogar's realization that he wanted to manage in the big leagues. With his current role as bench coach, he's taking another major step in that direction.
"It's going to give me much needed experience with the front office and dealing with a lot more of the day-to-day grind of the major league season," Bogar said. "A lot of the stuff I'll be doing administrative-wise I've already done before at the big league level with Tampa."
Bogar has talked with Valentine a few times about what the new manager expects, but they'll develop a plan before spring training arrives.
"Going forward it's going to give me a better understanding of how to run a major league team," Bogar said.
Spring training is not too far off, and soon enough 2011 will be history as the calendar switches to 2012. It's a chance for a new beginning for the Red Sox and for Bogar, too. He doesn't want to dwell on last season and the incredible disappointment it brought to this city and these fans.
"I want people to realize we were a good team last year and we're just as good, maybe better this year already," Bogar said. "Losing [Jonathan Papelbon] is a big deal, but you go out and get a guy like [Andrew] Bailey, it lessens the blow. And who knows, maybe Bailey will fit in here just as well as Pap did. We'll find out moving forward.
"Last year is last year, and if we don't learn from that then it's our mistakes," Bogar added. "Going into this season we've got a lot to prove, we've got a lot to show and I think everybody is up for that. It has to be about us this year and we need to do the things we need to do to prove to everybody that we're a good baseball team. We're not about all the distractions from last year."
It already sounds like he's managerial material. All he needs now is to finish graduate school with his MBA -- master of baseball administration.
Joe McDonald covers the Red Sox for ESPNBoston.com.