The Red Sox have been granted permission to interview Arizona Diamondbacks bench coach Luis Urueta for their managerial vacancy, according to a major league source. Urueta is the first known external candidate to interview for the Red Sox job that opened in mid-January with the departure of Alex Cora.
Urueta, a 39-year-old native of Colombia, has a wide variety of experiences in the game. Though he grew up thinking of a career in soccer, according to a profile by La Vida Baseball, countryman Edgar Renteria’s walkoff single in Game 7 of the 1997 World Series led Urueta to reimagine his future.
Urueta played five years in the Diamondbacks and Cardinals organizations, then spent three years playing in Italy. He served as a coach, manager, and coordinator in the Diamondbacks system from 2008–17, then joined Torey Lovullo’s big league staff as a coach in 2018.
Urueta also has experience as a winter league manager in both Colombia and the Dominican Republic.
He managed Colombia in the World Baseball Classic, and he served as general manager for Tigers del Licey in the Dominican Winter League in the 2017–18 offseason.
“His communication skills and his ability to relate to players is really, really off the charts,” Lovullo said by phone. “He is bilingual and has the ability to communicate with just about any player on the field. He’s very comfortable stepping into normal conversations and very difficult conversations. I think those are some of the qualities that some of the best managers that I’ve been around possess.”
Many around the Diamondbacks credited Urueta with a significant role in the development of Ketel Marte into an MVP candidate.
Lovullo had high praise for Urueta as a strategist — someone whose brain he picked both before and after games — and said that in his capacity as major league coach (a seventh member of a staff who typically wasn’t on the bench for games) the last two years, he played a critical role in the team’s advance scouting and gameplanning for opponents. He’s also shown an independent interest in furthering his education in statistics and analytics.
“He understands a lot of analytical aspects of the game, yes, but he also takes it upon himself to look at what he can get on his own, to get as much information to pass along to the player or in this case myself,” said Lovullo.
Urueta has been a hot name in the coaching world for some time, and the Diamondbacks promoted him to bench coach in part because they feared that he’d be hired elsewhere if they didn’t. (Indeed, the Rays, when current Red Sox chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom was still with them, tried to interview him after the 2018 season.)
Lovullo, the former Red Sox bench coach and interim manager, believes Urueta’s experiences have left him prepared for a managerial opportunity, including the Red Sox job.
“Boston is a very unique place, but I know that his game clock is on. He’d be prepared and ready for that challenge,” Lovullo said. “He’s a very good baseball man.
“He is fearless in his ability to keep moving forward and learning about the game, never sitting still. And he’s managed in some high-pressure situations. He had his team in the WBC on the verge of advancing to the final round, so I know he gets a good response from players.
“I feel very comfortable knowing that he follows the flow of the game and he’s able to reach players. I can’t speak from any experience of him being in the dugout as a field manager — I haven’t been with him — but he’s always really ready. And I think he’s ready to go.”