On Tuesday, Blue Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos said he gave strong consideration to internal candidates before hiring John Gibbons as the team’s new manager.
One of those candidates appears to have been Brian Butterfield.
The former Blue Jays coach told Boston radio station WEEI Friday he remained in the running for the Toronto managerial opening until the “11th hour.”
“(Toronto general manager) Alex (Anthopolous) and I have a great relationship, and he stayed in contact,” said Butterfield, whose contract as the Blue Jays third base coach expired earlier this fall. Butterfield went on to take the same position on John Farrell’s staff in Boston.
“My top priority as things went down after John left was have the possibility of being the manager of Toronto,” he added. “I was given that opportunity in an interview and it was soon after that that John called and offered me the third-base coaching job with Boston. I think it was the first time in my career I feel like I was in a win-win situation. I initially wanted to manage that club in Toronto, but that didn’t work out and they wanted to go in another direction.
In addition to Butterfield, it’s also believed Toronto bench coach Don Wakamatsu was also seriously considered by Anthopoulos for the position. Wakamatsu’s future in Toronto – and that of the remaining holdovers on the coaching from the Farrell regime — remain in now limbo. Anthopoulos and Gibbons said they hope to finalize the Blue Jays 2013 coaching staff in “the next week or two.”
As for Butterfield, he said he feels his lack of major league managing experience is what probably tipped the scales in Toronto for Gibbons.
“There were certain things he wanted in his next manager,” Butterfield said of Anthopoulos’ wish list. “When push came to shove and they were trying to narrow down the list — and Alex even told me this — he really had to have a guy who had previous major league managing experience. I felt like I was right there in the hunt at the end, just like I was in 2010 when they selected John. But there are things that we want in baseball, it’s life, and it’s not my time yet.”
The 54-year-old, Bangor, Maine native added the past few weeks have taken a toll on him.
“It was very difficult because I didn’t have both feet in,” he explained. “There was a chance with the Toronto situation, and the Red Sox situation. They were both good situations, but I didn’t have both feet fully in. I didn’t speak to anybody because I was in-between. It’s almost like I’ve been given an extra breath because the decision has been made and now I can get both feet in and work toward a championship season.”
A popular figure with fans and many of the Blue Jays players he coached, Butterfield said he enjoyed his time in Toronto.
“I think the last month-and-a-half, it was a situation where I had been in Toronto for an awful long time, but I really grew accustomed to the city,” he said. “Loved the people of Toronto, love the fans. Love the people in the front office and love the players I’ve had an opportunity to work with, along with some special guys on the coaching staff.”