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dan shaughnessy

Ron Roenicke couldn’t be starting his term as Red Sox manager under tougher circumstances

There is no masking the fact that Ron Roenicke got more than he bargained for this season.
There is no masking the fact that Ron Roenicke got more than he bargained for this season.John Tlumacki/Globe Staff

’He is 63 years old and has been in professional baseball since the mid 1970s. He has 29 years of coaching and managing experience. He was manager of the Milwaukee Brewers for four-plus seasons from 2011-15. He has three World Series championship rings — one from his playing days with the 1981 Dodgers, one from coaching with the 2002 Angels, and another from his bench coach work with the 2018 streamroller Red Sox.

Ron Roenicke is smart, tough, and stoic. He doesn’t want or need anybody feeling sorry for him.

But I do anyway. The poor guy had no idea it was going to be like this when he was elevated to the position of manager of the Red Sox after Alex Cora was fired. He’s working on a one-year contract, and that “year” is going to be a 60-game regular season in the summer of COVID-19.


Saddled with a tomato can starting rotation, working amid constant speculation that he is keeping the chair warm while Cora serves his MLB suspension, Roenicke is a candidate to be the Sox’ shortest-term manager since goofy Joe Kerrigan was jettisoned after 43 games in 2001.

Does Roenicke think he'll be back for Opening Day 2021?

“I’d would like to,‘' he said Monday morning. “It would be nice to have a normal spring training with the good feeling you have going into a season.”

Here’s Red Sox chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom, when asked about Roenicke’s long-term prospects:

“Even though we decided to keep his contract length where it was, we aren’t going into this saying that Ron is a one-year solution. It’s just that under the circumstances of how he came into the job, plus the fact that I’m new to the organization, this seems like the most appropriate thing.


“It’s something we’re going to assess after the season, but by no means have we been thinking of Ron as a short-term solution, nor do I think it’s impacted his ability to lead this group, and he’s done a wonderful job of that.”

Ron Roenicke faces a sizable challenge this season.
Ron Roenicke faces a sizable challenge this season.Maddie Meyer/Getty

Swell. But this can’t be how Roenicke envisioned his career evolving after this long in the game. He has two months to make something out of a team that management appeared to give up on back in February when Mookie Betts and David Price were salary-dumped to the Dodgers. Roenicke’s starting rotation is peppered with guys who’ll make us long for the days of Fireball Fred Wenz and Johnny “Wayback” Wasdin.

Oh, and he has to do this job wearing a mask as his team plays 60 games in empty ballparks during a global pandemic.

"When I wanted this job after what happened with Alex, I thought I was the right guy to fill that spot,'' said the Sox skipper. "I knew it was going to be a challenge and I enjoy the challenge of it.

“In my lifetime, I hope we will never go through this again, and I think just trying to get these guys through it and comfortable and still ready for the season I think is important, and I’m glad I’m here doing this.

“Nobody could have imagined this. We can’t have the team meetings every day that we’re used to. They work out on the field in different waves. When I talk to somebody individually, I’ve got a mask on and I’m 6 feet away. It’s just so different.


“And then dealing with the medical part of all this. We’re used to just baseball, and now half of what I do with the media is about medical information.‘'

Roenicke is in a high-risk age group as he attempts to manage via satellite in the COVID-19 summer.

“I’m healthy,‘' he said. “But I realize obviously you don’t want to get this, the way it affects different people. But I feel really comfortable when I go to the ballpark. I think we’ve done a great job trying to keep these people safe and I feel the same way.

‘‘We’ve had all these stages with this. At first we were like, ‘Is this going to happen? Are we going to be able to get through this?’ Actually, the last three or four days, things have calmed down. It looks like everything’s a go.

“It’s still going to be different with no fans. And we’re trying to pipe in some noise and all this stuff to try to create a little more atmosphere and energy in the park.‘’

Ron Roenicke clearly has the respect of Chaim Bloom.
Ron Roenicke clearly has the respect of Chaim Bloom.Jim Davis/Globe Staff

“I can’t imagine everything that must run through his head on a daily basis,” said Bloom. “It’s a tough enough job when everything is going well. Now everything from how he came into the job, to a lot of the circumstances he’s had to deal with baseball-wise, to the effects of the pandemic has been unusual and difficult.


“And I think that’s where who he is has really been a blessing and really helped him. Both the candor and the forthrightness with which he approaches every aspect of the job and then also his patience and the way he’s able to take everything in and get his arms around tough circumstances without losing sight of the task at hand and without panicking. Those have really served him well.”

All true.

I still feel sorry for the guy.

Dan Shaughnessy is a Globe columnist. He can be reached at daniel.shaughnessy@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @dan_shaughnessy.