Greg Colbrunn won a World Series ring as an Arizona Diamondbacks player in 2001. As a first-year Major League hitting coach, the Mount Pleasant resident had lots to do with the Boston Red Sox winning the 2013 World Series.
Among the differences? No duck boat parade in Phoenix.
Colbrunn, his wife Erika and their three daughters get to experience street after street of joy Saturday as Boston officially celebrates the unlikely Red Sox trip from last place to World Series glory. The Red Sox with a Game 6 victory over St. Louis on Wednesday night clinched a World Series in Boston for the first time since 1918.
“There’s nothing like the postseason in Boston. Just the atmosphere here,” Colbrunn, 44, said Friday by phone. “Getting to the World Series, and then playing the Cardinals and the whole experience was amazing. Boston is such a baseball-crazed city, it’s unbelievable. They love the Red Sox.”
Colbrunn, a former Charleston RiverDogs manager and coach who played in the majors for 13 seasons, made an immediate impact on the Red Sox. Boston went from a collective .260 average in 2012 to .277 this season, second-best in the majors.
Eight Red Sox regulars raised their batting averages.
“It was a combination of a bunch of things,” Colbrunn said. “Going out and getting the free agents helped immensely. Mike Napoli, Stephen Drew, Jonny Gomes, those are guys that fit the Red Sox, guys who see different pitches and who have high walk rates.
“It wasn’t something that guys hadn’t done before, and the one thing we talked about in spring training was ‘Be who you are; don’t try and be somebody you’re not.’”
Red Sox improvement was on clear display in World Series Game 6. Boston clobbered Michael Wacha, the St. Louis Cardinals’ postseason ace.
“Over the course of the season, guys that we hadn’t really seen before we didn’t do as well against,” Colbrunn said. “For instance, young kids who didn’t really have good command.”
Wacha, a 22-year-old rookie, baffled Boston in Game 2, holding the Red Sox to two runs on three hits over six innings in the Cardinal’s 4-2 victory.
Wacha was undefeated in four October starts, but Boston chased Wacha in the fourth inning of Wednesday night’s 6-1 win in Game 6.
“After seeing Wacha the first time, it was like, ‘OK, we can watch him on video and he’s going to throw his changeup and mix in his curveball,’” Colbrunn said. “Actually being up there and seeing him helped our team out tremendously.”
St. Louis issued three intentional walks to David Ortiz in Game 6, but the Red Sox designated hitter still finished the World Series with a .688 batting average (11 for 16). Ortiz, at 37, won the World Series Most Valuable Player Award.
“Holy cow, the biggest stage of them all,” Colbrunn said. “He’s such a good guy, on the field and off the field. He embraces Boston and the city loves him, and well they should. His work ethic is the most impressive thing.”
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