Gary DiSarcina, named the Angels’ third-base coach on Tuesday, recently interviewed for the Seattle Mariners’ manager job, and Angels Manager Mike Scioscia said “there’s no doubt in my mind Gary will manage in the big leagues.”
But DiSarcina, the former Angels shortstop who managed the Boston Red Sox’s triple-A team at Pawtucket, R.I., last season, said during a conference call that those major league managerial aspirations are “far down the line” for him.
“My goal right now is to be the best third base coach in baseball — that’s where my focus is going to be,” said DiSarcina, who replaces third base coach Dino Ebel, who was promoted to bench coach in October. “I know the speed of the game. I know the outfield arms are better, and the catchers make better plays. My job is to make adjustments, to do my homework.”
DiSarcina, who hit .258 with 186 doubles, 28 home runs, 355 runs batted in and 444 runs during his 12-year playing career (1989-2000) with the Angels, has limited experience coaching third base, having done it for Team Italy in the 2006 World Baseball Classic and in a few spring-training games with the Red Sox.
But after spending the last eight years in a variety of on-field and front-office roles with the Angels and Red Sox organizations, DiSarcina, 45, has little trepidation as he begins his first big league coaching job.
“I’ll have a great resource in Dino, and I had one in Brian Butterfield, Boston’s third base coach,” DiSarcina said. “I’ll approach coaching third just like I was a player. I’ll watch how other third base coaches do their job. It will be an adjustment, but that’s what spring training is for.”
DiSarcina had the option of returning to Pawtucket, but during his interviews with Scioscia, General Manager Jerry Dipoto and assistant GMs Scott Servais and Matt Klentak, the pull of returning to the organization he came up with was too strong.
“At the end of this process, the one thing I kept going back to was I’m an Angel,” DiSarcina said. “When I sat down with Mike, Jerry, Scott, Matt, it brought me back to the 1990s and wanting to be part of a group that’s going to win a World Series.
“It’s a great opportunity. Major league jobs come around often, and major league jobs with organizations you grew up with don’t come around often, and that kind of sealed the deal for me.”
DiSarcina was an All-Star in 1995 and the team’s most valuable player in 1998, but he said his best moment in Angel Stadium came in 2002, after his playing career, when he threw out the ceremonial first pitch to closer Troy Percival before a division series-clinching win over the New York Yankees.
“The reception I received after not being there for a year and a half left an impression on me that I’ll never forget,” DiSarcina said. “I was just a grinder of a shortstop who had three or four really good years; the rest were average to below average or played through injuries.
“For me, being in that stadium that day, I’ll never forget it. A lot of the credit goes to Mike and the players from that 2002 team who really helped turn this organization around and changed the way we’re perceived. Coming back to the stadium that day and seeing the sea of red is what we all want to get back to.”
DiSarcina was in camp with the Angels in 2000, Scioscia’s first year as manager. A shoulder injury limited DiSarcina to 12 games that season, but he still left an impression on Scioscia.
“He was banged up when we got here, but he’s an absolute gamer,” Scioscia said. “He loves the game, watches the game, studies the game. You could see how he relates to people. And he has a great understanding of the fundamentals, what it takes to win a game.
“That’s why he was such a great player for such a long time here. There’s no doubt in my mind Gary will manage in the big leagues. As he gets experience, he will show how much he can add to a team, to a staff. He was a captain on the field. We’re excited to have him on board.”