Bruce Crabbe's official title with the Pawtucket Red Sox is coach. It sounds simple and straightforward, yet also vague in terms of what exactly his duties with the Triple-A ballclub will entail.
The 51-year-old Crabbe could oversee the infielders, an area that is his forte. Perhaps he might be responsible for relaying signals from the dugout to the outfielders, reminding them where to position themselves based on the hitter at the plate. Maybe Crabbe will offer his in-game observations as he sits next to new PawSox manager Kevin Boles.
Would it catch anyone off-guard to see Crabbe follow hitting coach Dave Joppie to the indoor batting tunnel located just outside the home clubhouse at McCoy Stadium? Inside are two full-length cages and with the prospect of an additional right arm joining Joppie, it only expedites the process of shuffling more players in and out.
If anything, Crabbe likes the ambiguity of his Pawtucket role. It enables him to do a little of this, a little of that. He's like a doctor who's always on call and versatile in a Swiss Army knife sense.
"I think I'm going to be that do-it-all guy. I plan on being there for whoever needs me whenever," Crabbe explained Friday at the media portion of the annual PawSox Hot Stove fete. "A lot of that is going to depend on the players we have, but I've always been that guy. I like that role."
Said PawSox outfielder Alex Hassan, "Bruce is really good at teaching. Plus he's always available."
Crabbe's minor-league coaching career has pretty much run the full gamut. The 2014 season will mark his 10th in the Red Sox organization, the previous nine years including three separate managerial stints at Single-A Lowell, which is where he was based the past two seasons. He's also been a batting coach and a roving infield coordinator.
The number of titles that Crabbe has held in his affiliation with Boston's minor-league system gives off that well-versed aura of someone who understands the business of helping young players graduate from one level to the next.
"Nothing is new for me," Crabbe smiled.
That goes double for his fellow PawSox coaches. Crabbe's tenure with the Red Sox coincides with the years spent in the organization by Boles and Joppie, while he counts Pawtucket pitching coach Rich Sauveur as one of his good golf buddies. No formal introductions will be necessary when they all convene in Fort Myers, Fla. in a matter of weeks.
"Everybody in this organization is comfortable with each other. It's not like they're going to feel like I'm stepping on toes," Crabbe remarked. "It's not a situation where Boles is going to feel threatened. There are no egos here. The staff has a nice demeanor about it where there's no pressurized hot stove so to speak."
Crabbe mentioned that the possibility of joining the PawSox coaching staff was brought to his attention shortly after another managerial vacancy was created when Gary DiSarcina left to become the Angels' third-base coach in early November. His promotion to the front lines of the farm chain comes at a time when a number of position-player prospects - most notable third baseman Garin Cecchini and shortstop Deven Marrero - appear destined to dock in Pawtucket at some point in 2014.
"It's not going to be your typical veteran Triple-A clubhouse where you say 'Slap it on and go get 'em'," Crabbe pointed out.
Along those same lines, Red Sox farm director Ben Crockett said that Crabbe's status in Pawtucket, "will allow us to continue to emphasize teaching. Bruce will definitely make an impact with the infielders, but I think he can have an impact in a lot of other areas as well."
Crabbe understands that his stay in Pawtucket could include this year and this year only. If the Red Sox want him to take his versatile approach to another affiliate, he's totally onboard.
Regardless of the level, the goal will always remain the same, which someone of Crabbe's revered status totally gets.
"You want to give the players a good working base where they feel comfortable at this level before, boom, they're off to someplace else," Crabbe said.