Will Jeff Bagwell return as hitting coach next year?
I get this question a lot and I can honestly tell you that he has not made a decision.
I’m assuming Bagwell will be welcomed back by the front office if he does want to continue coaching, but at this point, I’d say the odds of him wanting to return are 50-50. He’s enjoying the experience and is making a difference with both the young and veteran hitters, but the decision will be based on whether he can stand to be away from his kids. Right now, he can’t.
Baseball is not a part-time deal. If you’re in, you’re in for the long haul and you will have little to no time to do anything else for the better part of 7 1/2 months. For a coach, it means arriving to Spring Training around Feb. 12 and once your kids are of school age, you’ll see them only for one week out of the six-plus you’ll be in Florida.
When the season starts, coaches are at the ballpark by early afternoon and don’t leave until around 11 at night. And then there’s the road, obviously, where you barely get to see your family at all.
Coaches coach because they love it. For many, baseball is all they know. Most coaches and managers are retired players and can’t imagine doing anything else for as long as they want to work. With the exception of a few current coaches who made bazillions as players, most have to work, and therefore, the sacrifices they make in their personal lives is just part of it. It’s understood and it’s accepted.
For Bagwell, it’s different. He likes being involved with the game and had been looking to do more with the organization when the hitting coach job became available. But he doesn’t need the money and he’s been happy in retirement. His kids are nine and seven and do not remember him being away when he was still an active player. You don’t just miss some of your kids’ activities when you’re in baseball. You miss ALL of them.
I remember talking with Chris Johnson during Spring Training, the day that his dad, Ron, was going to be coaching third base for the Red Sox during Boston’s visit to Kissimmee. I asked Chris if he was looking forward to being on the field with his dad and he said something to the tune of, “This is only the third time he’s seen me play baseball since I was in high school, so, yea.”
I would imagine Bagwell won’t have made his decision by the time the season ends. I expect him to mull it over for a while, but he’ll have to let the team know in somewhat of a timely fashion so they can start looking for a replacement if he decides not to return. So when you ask “Is Bagwell coming back next year,” we’re being completely honest when we say we don’t know. We don’t know, and Bags doesn’t either. Stay tuned.
Speaking of Bags, it’s always a hoot to see him and Larry Andersen reminisce about the Houston-Boston swap that is now known as the second-worst trade in Red Sox history, behind only the one that sent Babe Ruth to the Yankees. By eavesdropping on the conversation this morning, I was reminded that this Aug. 31 will be the 20-year anniversary of the trade that sent Andersen, then a veteran reliever, to the Red Sox for Bagwell, a little-known Double-A third baseman.
(I think my favorite part of the story is Peter Gammons‘ reaction — after the Red Sox PR people passed around the press release announcing the trade, a disgusted Gammons ripped it into shreds and walked home in a huff).
I appreciate Bagwell and Andersen reminiscing long enough for us to do what we do best — sneak up on people when they’re not looking, snap candid photos and be a perennial annoying presence in the clubhouse on a semi-regular basis:
On that note, enjoy these images from a productive week at Citizens Bank Park:
Two Jasons, Bourgeois and Castro.
Castro and his class clown teammate, Chris Johnson.
Press box view of the Phillies gorgeous ballpark.
Fun Astros fans