BOSTON -- Dale Sveum knows all about the pressure cooker that comes with managing in a pennant race, even a postseason series. Now he wants a taste of being a manager on a permanent basis instead of the unique timing of his interim appearance with the 2008 Brewers.
On Wednesday the Red Sox interviewed Sveum for their managerial vacancy, and he didn't need directions around the offices at Fenway Park.
Sveum was the third-base coach in Boston in 2004 and 2005, and was a bit of a lightning rod with both fans and media due to players being thrown out at the plate under his watch.
"I'll just say I'm glad I was scrutinized for being aggressive instead of passive," said Sveum. "I'm not a very passive person; I'm a very aggressive person, and I always have been. The thing about the passion of the fans here and the media, it was kind of ... I don't want to say it was comical, but if you do the same thing in Milwaukee, there's nothing really said about it.
"Don't get me wrong, I made a couple of decisions I'd like to have back. And maybe a comment or two in the paper I'd like to have back after Dave Roberts got thrown out [against Tampa Bay]. I don't want to say it didn't faze me, but I know my baseball knowledge, and I know most of those guys getting thrown out is just part of the game. ... The dynamics and the odds of a guy throwing a ball that perfect to home from 250 feet away are very slim."
What Sveum got during his two-year stint was a taste for the type of scrutiny a Red Sox manager faces.
"He's done a lot of different things in baseball. He's been a third-base coach in the big leagues, he's been a bench coach, he's been a hitting coach, he's been a manager, he's managed in the Minor Leagues, he obviously played for a long time," said general manager Ben Cherington. "We're looking at sort of the entire body of work, and in some ways, you know, I think his experience as third-base coach is a benefit to him. He's been through some adversity in Boston, and a lot of our candidates won't have been through that."
Nor will any of them have an experience such as the one Sveum had late in that 2008 season with the Brewers.
Ned Yost had lost the clubhouse, so he was dismissed with just 12 games left in the season. Under Sveum's watch, the Brewers started by losing four out of five, but then won six of the last seven to make the postseason. They lost to the eventual World Series champion Phillies in a four-game National League Division Series.
"I might have brought a little ease to the clubhouse, but I got a little more aggressive, I think, offensively," Sveum said. "That was our biggest problem in that month. We just stopped hitting. It was a good offense that just stopped hitting. We didn't score runs. Our pitching was still really good that month. We just didn't score runs. Even though we had the big boppers, we were hitting and running with Ryan Braun. We were hitting and running with the big boys. Manufactured some runs here or there. We got things going."
But the Brewers decided to make Ken Macha their manager for the 2009 season, at which point Sveum was re-assigned to the role of hitting coach.
Why didn't the Brewers make him the manager?
"Mainly, from what I understand, it was just that there was no experience," Sveum said. "At that time they wanted an experienced manager that had done it before. That's basically the reason I got, was at that time I had no managerial experience besides those 12 games and the four games of the playoffs."
After getting an interview with the Pirates last year and this one with the Red Sox, not to mention possible interest from the Cubs and Cardinals over the next few days, Sveum feels his time is coming.
"Experience is one thing. I've experienced a great deal," Sveum said. "I've obviously experienced a lot of Major League managing. I've been around a lot in my career, been around a lot of great players, a lot of Hall of Famers, been very fortunate to play for Tony La Russa, Joe Torre, Lou Piniella, Jim Leyland, Gene Lamont, Tom Trebelhorn, some great managers, and got to learn a lot from them in different ways.
"But my personality, the knowledge of the game ... I've been, for the most part, I think I've been very well respected by every player I've been around for the fact that I'm not afraid to talk to Major League players, superstars, whatever it might be. I don't have a difficult time speaking my mind to anyone on any level."
The Red Sox interviewed Phillies bench coach Pete Mackanin for the manager's position on Monday. Cherington has requested permission from teams to speak to two other candidates, and he will set up interviews as soon as permission is granted.
Though there has been a lot of talk over the past few weeks about some deterioration that took place in Boston's clubhouse down the stretch, Sveum is comfortable taking charge with players when he feels there is some wrongdoing.
"My personality ... I don't let things fester," he said. "If I see something that's disrespecting me or disrespecting the game or the teammates that I'm managing, I'll have a problem with that, and I'll take care of it at that given time. What format that may be? I don't know, depending on the problem at hand at that time.
"But most of the time, you're just getting your players to respect you. Most times, when things get out of whack, you have to discipline people for the most part just because something they did either disrespected myself, the organization, or the teammates that are playing every day -- their own teammates.
"If you let anything fester, then you start losing respect. ... You have to get players to respect you to play for you. If they don't respect you, you get a lot of issues that creep up. If they respect you, they're usually going to play for you and do things the right way professionally."
During Sveum's first stint in Boston, he had a lot of respect in the clubhouse. From the tireless work he did in the batting cage with veterans looking to do extra work to his detailed charts on infield defense, he was a core part of those teams.
The last time, his best work at Fenway was done behind the scenes. This time he'd be eager to take on the high-profile role of managing.
"It was the greatest experience I could ever have," he said. "We won the World Series in '04 and unfortunately got ousted in the first round of the '05 playoffs. It's the ultimate place to ever be. There's nothing like Fenway Park. There's nothing like Boston the city, the passion that people have for the Boston Red Sox."
Though Cherington's search is ongoing, he is impressed by Sveum.
"He's a passionate baseball guy, and we knew that when he was here," Cherington said. "There's just a lot of substance to his baseball thought process and how he goes about teaching the game, making decisions during the game. He's familiar with the city, familiar with some people in the organization. He's had a little bit of managerial experience in the big leagues, albeit brief; he's managed in the Minor Leagues. He's got a lot of the qualities that we're looking for.
The Red Sox kept to their known tradition of asking a managerial candidate to analyze video of past in-game situations during the interview.
"And then today was a chance to get to know him better, and it went well. ... We talked a lot of baseball for eight or nine hours and watched some baseball," Cherington said. "It's hard to watch. Some of the games we were watching were ones that I don't really want to replay, but it's a good chance to watch a game with someone who wasn't there, see how they'd be thinking about things."