FORT MYERS, Fla. – Ron Roenicke entered the Red Sox Spring Training Complex on Wednesday morning and went to his usual locker in the coach room.
His clothes were gone. Then he found that his things had been brought to the manager's office, his new home.
"So everything is still a little different for me," said Roenicke.
It was this kind of off-season for the Red Sox, which is why they appreciated Wednesday when pitcher and catcher had their first training. The sound of catcher gloves popping during bullpen sessions, bats popping during punch training, and even the trifles of pitcher field training made things normal again.
"I think it's important to start today and get through a normal day," said Roenicke. "I enjoyed it today."
It wasn't until Monday that the deal with Mookie Betts and David Price was completed after he had been publicly pulled out for almost a week. It was Tuesday that Roenicke was appointed interim manager, less than a month after Red Sox released Alex Cora for his role in Astros' 2017 sign theft program.
While MLB's investigation into the alleged illegal sign theft of the Red Sox in 2018 is still hanging over their heads and the results are not yet final, Wednesday was the first day that baseball – the actual product on the field – started to take over the conversation at Fenway South.
Roenicke held his first (non-introductory) press conference as an interim manager with serenity. He was still asked about the investigation – he doesn't want to comment on the ongoing investigation – and replaced Betts and Price, but spent more time answering regular manager questions.
There were questions about Chris Sale, whose flu has become a mild pneumonia. The left-hander, who is trying to put together a bounce-back season and prove that he can stay healthy after elbow problems last season, will not report to the camp until Friday and will slowly start spring training.
There was talk of who would take the lead – Andrew Benintendi and Alex Verdugo are candidates, Roenicke said. There has been talk of who would get closer to him – Brandon Workman deserves a shot to prove he can do it again this year, Roenicke said. It was discussed whether the Red Sox would use an opener that the old team of the new chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom (the Rays) had mastered. It is possible depending on whether someone wins the open fifth place on the grid, said Roenicke.
As a baseball provider, Roenicke was prepared for all questions and handled them with ease.
"I honestly think if I didn't have all of that [experience]"I wouldn't feel comfortable talking to you," said Roenicke to a large horde of reporters. "I like questions, I really do. I always liked questions. But it's because I feel like I have answers to what I'm doing and what's going on. So all these years and all the things that happened to me … all of that made me coach and manage. "
Roenicke thought back to 2013 when he headed the Brewers and Ryan Braun was suspended for using performance-enhancing drugs. He spent half the season answering questions about Braun every day, he said.
The challenge that awaits him now is different – it leads a legendary franchise back from a brutal off-season – but baseball has finally started again and Roenicke is taking the pressure.
"I think that was one of the discussions I had when I interviewed," he said. "Because of all the things I've done in the past, I think it really helps me to deal with the events of the season." I know I'm going to get tough questions all year round, I understand that. But I really enjoy challenges. Experience makes it much easier to master the challenges. "