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Torey Lovullo prepared for unexpected opportunity

Interim Red Sox manager Torey Lovullo was on the field before Friday night’s game, helping his team prepare to play the Mariners.
Interim Red Sox manager Torey Lovullo was on the field before Friday night’s game, helping his team prepare to play the Mariners.Barry Chin/Globe Staff

Torey Lovullo has been a manager-in-waiting for some time.

He's one of those bench coaches who keep waiting for their chance. Some get it, some don't.

This, however, is not the way Lovullo wanted it to happen.

Arguably his best friend, Red Sox manager John Farrell, has stepped away for the remainder of the season to be treated for Stage 1 lymphoma. Lovullo will take over.

Lovullo has interviewed for numerous managerial jobs over the years and come up short. The Twins were very interested in him this offseason, but went with Paul Molitor. Texas nearly hired Lovullo as well, but the job went to Jeff Banister, who had a slightly more impressive interview.

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Lovullo was also Farrell's bench coach in Toronto and has played a major role in the daily running of both teams. Lovullo often acts as the messenger for the manager and that job involves giving players tough news, such as a benching, a fine, or other discipline.

In the 50-year-old Lovullo, the Red Sox feel they have someone who can maintain team continuity amid this shocking development.

"Torey's going to send the same message that John does, and that goes on down the line. It's a chain of command. It's one voice," second baseman Dustin Pedroia said. "I know wins and losses are not where we want to be, but that's why this organization going forward is going to be back on top. We believe in each other and we send the right message from the top to the bottom."

Lovullo told NESN's Tom Caron that the rest of the season is dedicated to Farrell.

"From my standpoint, absolutely, 100 percent," Lovullo said. "And I think everyone else is going to feel the same way. Listening to Dustin and David [Ortiz] talk, I think everybody is here for John and he's in our prayers first and foremost."

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Certainly, Lovullo will be evaluated on how he runs the team, how the team performs. The whole country will be watching. There will be potential managerial openings this offseason, and if Lovullo performs well, he may get another shot at a head job.

Lovullo won't have to deal with the pressures of a pennant race. But he must motivate his players by showing enthusiasm in the dugout and clubhouse, and it will help his stock if the young players continue to progress and the veterans continue to play hard.

He's more than just a caretaker while Farrell goes through his treatment.

"Nobody wants to focus on Torey and Torey doesn't want to focus on Torey in this situation," said one American League GM. "But every opportunity you get, it's an evaluation. Whether you're in last place like the Red Sox, there's a lot of things to be done. Torey himself will have to evaluate the players now from a manager's viewpoint.

"It's actually going to be good for the Red Sox because coaches sometimes hold back because of the position they're in. Now Lovullo is going to be asked, as a manager, what he thinks of each and every player, and his voice, based on the position he's now in, will have a greater voice."

Lovullo will not take that responsibility lightly.

He's a longtime minor league manager, including at Pawtucket. And he was the bench coach when the Red Sox won the World Series in 2013. So his résumé is expansive. He also embraces analytics and is the one who organizes the numbers for Farrell to dissect and implement in certain situations.

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He is also personable and articulate. He won't be overwhelmed by the media or the big baseball town that is Boston. He understands those things very well.

He knows things will change in the big chair. Maybe some of his relationships with players will take on a different tone.

What Lovullo now has to establish is his presence as a manager. There's a world of difference between bench coach and manager in the big leagues and Lovullo will find that out on the job.

Yes, the rest of the season may be dedicated to John Farrell, but all eyes will be on Lovullo in his first extended chance to manage a major league team.


Nick Cafardo can be reached at cafardo@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @nickcafardo.