Gonzales: Former manager Bochy has fond memories of Guillen, Epstein

                                                                                                                                                                                                   
  • San Francisco Giants manager Bruce Bochy was honored before a game against the Cubs Aug. 22, 2019, at Wrigley Field. Bochy retired at the end of the season.

    San Francisco Giants manager Bruce Bochy was honored before a game against the Cubs Aug. 22, 2019, at Wrigley Field. Bochy retired at the end of the season. Associated Press

 
Updated 1/11/2022 12:32 PM

Bruce Bochy was among the thousands affected by plane cancellations that delayed last weekend's visit to Chicago for the ABCA Convention.

But for Bochy, the chance to talk about his 2018 book, "Bochy Ball: The Chemistry of Winning and Losing in Baseball, Business and Life," ran deeper than just the opportunity to help "hungry" college, high school and youth coaches at the annual American Baseball Coaches Association gathering.

 

Bochy, 66, who stepped down after the 2019 season following a storied 25-year managerial career capped by three World Series titles in a five-year span with the San Francisco Giants, has a unique connection to legends with the Cubs and White Sox despite never playing or managing for either franchise.

Shortly after Bochy started his managing career with the Padres in the mid-1990s, he received help from a 22-year-old intern named Theo Epstein.

"I'm not surprised," Bochy said of Epstein's ascent to a three-time World Series title architect with the Red Sox and Cubs. "Every year his duties escalated. It just amazed me how much he loved the game and wanted to learn about it from the bottom up."

Bochy was under contract with the Padres and Giants when Epstein ran the Red Sox and Cubs, so they never had a chance to work together with Epstein as GM/President, Bochy said.

More than one decade before meeting Epstein, Bochy became a winter ball teammate of famed White Sox shortstop/manager Ozzie Guillen.

"Sometimes I think he's my kid," said Bochy, who played with Guillen for La Guaira in the Venezuelan Winter League. "We got very close. He was the same way when he was 18. He's got so much energy, knowledge and enthusiasm.

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"I'd love to see him get back on the field."

Guillen turns 58 Jan. 20 and possesses 25 years of playing and managerial experience that has served well for the likes of Tony La Russa (77), Dusty Baker (72) and the recently hired Buck Showalter (65).

"I certainly think they make a difference," Bochy said.

Teams that could be looking for a change next season should be aware that Bochy could be available.

"I'm not ruling anything out," Bochy said without hesitation. "I guess if it was the right situation and somebody called, I would listen.

"If something worked out, great. If not, I'm still so grateful for what happened in my career with my managing."

In his current duties as a special adviser with the Giants, Bochy evaluates minor league players at all levels and attends spring training. An opportunity to manage France in a World Baseball Classic qualifier last summer was canceled because of COVID.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Bochy has dealt with a wide range of managerial scrutiny. His 2014 World Series title wasn't secured until the bottom of the ninth inning of Game 7 when third baseman Pablo Sandoval caught a foul pop with the tying run at third base.

But that stress paled in comparison to summoning his son Brett to make his major league debut in relief against Juan Uribe with the bases loaded in a blowout loss to the rival Dodgers in 2014.

"That's as stressful as a time I've been through," Bochy said. "I don't think I've been nervous during games. Even in the seventh inning of the World Series you're so focused.

"I remember the emotions and nerves going through me. My wife barked, 'You couldn't picked a better time to bring him in?' "

Uribe, however, foiled the scouting report by not swinging at any low-and-away fastballs and sliders and drew a walk.

"It was a learning lesson," said Bochy, recalling that some fans questioned him for not pitching his son sooner. "You realize 'Hey, he's pretty good. Trust him. He can handle himself. He worked his way up there. He earned it.' There was no reason for me to be as nervous as I was for him."

Bochy was approached by author and longtime friend Dr. Kevin Freiberg to collaborate on a book after winning his first Series title in 2010. But Bochy elected to wait eight years, and the teamwork concepts that were cultivated with general manager Brian Sabean and homegrown players like Matt Cain, Buster Posey, Madison Bumgarner, Brandon Crawford and Brandon Belt, coupled with experiences such as with his son, fortify his message.

"When 25 guys see the same concept and have the same goal in mind, it's incredible what things can be accomplished," Bochy said. "The game has become so focused on the numbers. To a large degree, that's good. Technology waits for no one. But we hope this book made a contribution to the intangible side of the game."

@MDGonzales

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