The Los Angeles Dodgers, after a managerial search that lasted nearly five weeks and included at least nine candidates, have made the decision to hire former outfielder Dave Roberts as the 32nd manager in franchise history and the tenth since the team moved to Los Angeles.
Roberts, the son of an African American father and a Japanese mother, is the first minority manager for the Dodgers and the third current minority manager in baseball, joining Dusty Baker of the Washington Nationals and Fredi Gonzalez of the Atlanta Braves.
Roberts spent the past five seasons on the San Diego Padres’ coaching staff, initially as first-base coach and later as bench coach to manager Bud Black — one of the candidates he beat out for the Dodgers’ job. Roberts was considered for the open managerial post in San Diego after Black was fired last season, but the team went with Pat Murphy to finish the season and then hired Andy Green this offseason. Roberts and Green will make their managerial debuts against each other when the Dodgers and Padres open the 2016 season in San Diego on April 4.
Roberts is the fourth Los Angeles Dodgers manager to have also played for the Dodgers, joining Tommy Lasorda, Bill Russell, and Glenn Hoffman. Roberts was a Dodger from 2002 until the middle of 2004, when he was traded to the Boston Red Sox. The Red Sox were Roberts’ shortest-tenured team, but his most memorable moment as a professional came in October 2004 in a Boston uniform.
With the Red Sox trailing the New York Yankees in the American League Championship Series, 3-0, and trailing 4-3 in Game 4 with star closer Mariano Rivera on the mound, Kevin Millar drew a walk and Roberts came off the bench to run for him. After several pickoff attempts, one of which very nearly nailed him, Roberts stole second base, narrowly beating the throw from Yankees catcher Jorge Posada. Bill Mueller followed with a single to score Roberts, and the Red Sox went on to win Game 4 in 12 innings. They didn’t lose again in 2004, taking three more games from the Yankees and then sweeping the St. Louis Cardinals in the World Series for their first championship since 1918.
Roberts made only one more appearance for the Red Sox after “The Steal,” pinch running again after another Millar walk the next night, this time in the eighth inning but again with a 4-3 deficit. That time, he went to third base on a Trot Nixon single and scored the tying run on a Jason Varitek sacrifice fly. The Red Sox traded Roberts to the Padres that offseason.
In the end of the Dodgers’ managerial search, it came down to Roberts and his 2004 Red Sox teammate Gabe Kapler, who spent 2015 as the Dodgers Director of Player Development. While no official word has come down, it seems likely that Kapler will resume that role, unless Roberts wants him as a coach. The Dodgers currently have only Rick Honeycutt slated to return from last year’s coaching staff. First-base coach Davey Lopes has accepted the same role for the Nationals, and hitting coach Mark McGwire has been linked to openings with the Padres and the Arizona Diamondbacks. Bench coach Tim Wallach is a regular interviewee for managerial openings, but he is currently without a job and seems likely to join former Dodgers manager Don Mattingly with the Miami Marlins. Ron Roenicke, who replaced Lorenzo Bundy as third-base coach late last season, recently rejoined Mike Scioscia‘s staff as third-base coach for the Los Angeles Angels.