Red Sox’ Dave Dombrowski adds lessons from Patriots’ Bill Belichick to championship portfolio

February 8, 2017

PAWTUCKET, R.I. — Dave Dombrowski said yesterday that unless he can prove it will help, he is not very likely to start cutting the sleeves off his suits in homage to Bill Belichick.

But in the meantime, with a whiff of Belichickian mystery, the president of baseball operations believes there are lessons to be learned from the Patriots coach that can be applied to making the Red Sox better.

“I do, but I’m really not going to get into it very much,” Dombrowski said after he and team president Sam Kennedy addressed a group of Pawtucket Red Sox corporate sponsors at McCoy Stadium. “I do think that there are things that you learn from him, sure. Anytime you have somebody who’s great, you learn. I met Don Shula years ago when I was with Miami, and he was one of the best (as coach of the NFL’s Dolphins). You learn things from him.

“You try to learn from the best. It’s easy to say in that sense, but it’s not easy to accomplish. But (Belichick’s) total focus toward day-to-day, and what’s taking place, is admirable. And his preparation.”

Assembling a franchise in the NFL is light years different than doing the same in Major League Baseball. Nonetheless, Dombrowski sees parallels.

“It’s interesting for me because (the Patriots) won the championship, but four of our last five years in Detroit we won the (AL Central) divisional championship and then we (the Sox) won the (AL East) championship last year,” he said. “You’re in a spot where the difference is you’ve got to get to the final spot of winning the whole thing, and that’s what our goals are at this time. It’s a situation where I have a great deal of admiration.

“I watched what took place on Sunday, and it’s still hard to believe that that took place, but you tip your cap toward him. But I think it’s different circumstances and a different game, but you always take the time to learn from guys who are the best at their profession. And to me, when you look at Belichick and (quarterback Tom) Brady, they’re the best at their profession.”

Dombrowski said that through his friendship with Hall of Fame manager Tony La Russa, he had met Belichick a couple of times for dinner before he was hired by the Red Sox in August 2015. In his time working for the Chicago White Sox, Marlins and Tigers, Dombrowski has tried to emulate and pick the minds of local coaches and general managers from other sports in those towns. He mentioned the Detroit Red Wings’ Steve Yzerman, Ken Holland, Jim Devellano and Scotty Bowman, former Pats coach Bill Parcells and NFL executive Ron Wolf.

“To me, they’re some of the best people I’ve met and had a chance to visit with,” Dombrowski said. “When I’ve been around Bill Belichick, it’s been special.”

Red Sox notes

The Red Sox added to the third base depth in the minor leagues with the signing of Mike Olt. A first-round draft pick of the Texas Rangers in 2010 who was at the time considered to be a big-time power prospect, the 28-year-old has not lived up to expectations.

During parts of three major league seasons, the last with the White Sox in 2015, Olt has hit 16 home runs in 352 at-bats. That’s not a bad ratio, but he also has a .168 average with a .250 on-base percentage.

Dombrowski said Olt, in on a minors deal, is not in the mix of backups in play for time at third base in case Pablo Sandoval fails to come through as hoped. Brock Holt and Josh Rutledge constitute the depth at the position at the major league level. .?.?.

With 28 pitchers expected in camp, Dombrowski does not expect to make any late signings ahead of spring training.