FORT MYERS, Fla. -- The Boston Red Sox named bench coach Ron Roenicke interim manager Tuesday, a label chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom said the organization chose to use out of respect for the ongoing MLB investigation into alleged illegal sign stealing by the Red Sox in 2018.
Although the results of the investigation are still unknown, the Red Sox felt confident enough that Roenicke would not be implicated.
"We have no reason to think there would be anything to cause an adverse result for Ron in this investigation, but of course the investigation is not complete," Bloom said Tuesday, a day before the team's first scheduled workout for pitchers and catchers. "It's not fair for us to determine that. We can't determine what comes out of the investigation, so we're going to respect the ongoing investigation."
Bloom was left to conduct an abbreviated job search after former Red Sox skipper Alex Cora departed in January following MLB's investigation into sign stealing by the Houston Astros, Cora's previous employer.
When asked if the team would remove Roenicke's interim label following the release of the investigation results, Bloom declined to comment further.
"We'll address permanency when [the investigation] is complete," Bloom said.
Boston also did not name a replacement for Roenicke at bench coach, though Bloom says the opening will be addressed by the end of the spring.
Roenicke, who managed the Milwaukee Brewers from 2011 to 2015, takes over during a tumultuous period in Red Sox history. Besides Cora's departure, the team is facing a public backlash over the trade of Mookie Betts and David Price and the investigation into its own sign-stealing allegations from the World Series-winning year. Boston fell short of sky-high expectations in the 2019 season, finishing the year with an 84-78 record and a third-place finish in the American League East.
"Last year, these guys are upset about what happened and I think that's a good thing coming into the year," Roenicke said. "Sometimes when you win all of the time, you kinda just think, 'Well, we'll just show up and win.' These guys don't feel that way. They know the kind of work it's going to take, especially this spring to get ready for the season, and how difficult it is to win all of the time. They've got something to prove and hopefully we keep them healthy, which is huge, and we can get back in the playoffs again and then we'll see."
The 63-year-old Roenicke arrived in Boston with Cora before the 2018 season and helped bring Boston another World Series title. Given the tumultuous nature of the entire Boston offseason, Bloom said the continuity of having the team's previous bench coach slide into the manager's seat was an appealing part of Roenicke's candidacy for the job.
"I said at the beginning of this process, I think it's really important to evaluate people for who they are in total, the whole person, and everybody who does this type of job, you bring your whole self to the job so you really look at everything and how it all adds up, putting players in a position to succeed," Bloom said. "There's no question that Ron, having been a part of the success here, being as perceptive as he is and combining with the time he spent around this group, it equips him much better to be the guy around."
Meanwhile, Boston is still waiting to hear the results of MLB's investigation, which will coincide with the announcement of Cora's punishment. The Associated Press reported Tuesday that no decision on the investigation will be made this week.
The interim hiring of Roenicke is the latest chapter in a guarded, low-key manager search with little information coming from the offices of Fenway Park. Boston interviewed Oakland Athletics quality control coach Mark Kotsay (who played in Boston in 2008 and 2009), Arizona Diamondbacks bench coach Luis Urueta and Red Sox third-base coach Carlos Febles.
Even before the official announcement, Red Sox players expressed excitement to see Roenicke promoted, looking for continuity in the face of the recent trouble.
"Ron is a great candidate, and he knows our team," J.D. Martinez said in January.
"Very intellectual guy, great mind with a love for the game," said outfielder Jackie Bradley Jr. "He's great."
Added infielder Michael Chavis: "I love him. He's a really good dude. Really knowledgeable about baseball. He's been around the game a long time, so it's cool to see his analysis. He's got a nice combination of the old school from his experience, but he's also good at understanding how the new game is developing and how it's changing. Having those sides in one is very interesting."
During his tenure leading the Brewers, Roenicke compiled a 342-331 record with his best season coming in 2011, when Milwaukee won the National League Central with a 96-66 record and made it to the NL Championship Series before losing to the St. Louis Cardinals. After his time with the Brewers, Roenicke served as the third-base coach for the Los Angeles Dodgers and Angels from 2015 through 2017. During his introductory news conference, Roenicke acknowledged the game has changed dramatically since his last managerial stint. Roenicke expects to work closely with Bloom and general manager Brian O'Halloran on a day-to-day basis.
"The analytics, without a doubt, are different. We started them a lot my first year when I went there and Chaim was with Joe Maddon," Roenicke said. "Joe and I talk about a lot of things and basically it was analytics, really back all the way to 2000, when I was with Joe in Anaheim. It's just easier to get to everything now. We always wanted all the information we can get, but now, if I ask someone for something, I get it. Before, it was like we wanted something, but how in the world can we possibly get this stuff? It was a huge advantage to have all of this information. It's a big advantage to have a department that communicates well with that group of manager and coaches."
Roenicke replaces an extremely popular manager in Cora, who was beloved by the players and fans alike, and hopes to communicate as effectively as the previous Red Sox skipper.
"These guys congregated to [Cora]. I would walk down there and you would see four or five players sitting next to him on the bench," Roenicke said. "You walk in the dugout or the locker room and you see him sitting and you have this group around him. That told me something. It told me that, hey, even if I thought I was good at communication, I could be better. I'm going to try to do that. As open a format as you can have, and communicate as well as I can do it."
With the trade of Betts, Boston now finds itself in need of a new leadoff hitter. Roenicke mentioned newly acquired outfielder Alex Verdugo and Red Sox left fielder Andrew Benintendi as potential candidates to slide into the role. The new Red Sox skipper knows replacing the production of both Betts and Price will require others on the roster to step up.
"You don't replace Mookie Betts," Roenicke said. "He's one of the best players in the game. David Price, who you know who has put together some different seasons and obviously two years ago, helping us win the World Series. You don't replace him, but you move forward. All of a sudden, guys surprise you. You bring in guys and they step up and do well, and this team, they're focused on what they can do and showing people wrong."