Los Angeles Angels third-base coach and Billerica native Gary DiSarcina tips his cap after falling backwards while dodging a foul ball during a game
Los Angeles Angels third-base coach and Billerica native Gary DiSarcina tips his cap after falling backwards while dodging a foul ball during a game against the Houston Astros on June 4 in Houston. AP PHOTO

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BOSTON -- Foul balls now whistle past Gary DiSarcina much faster than they did when he stood in third-base coach's boxes as manager of the Lowell Spinners and Pawtucket Red Sox.

After all, DiSarcina is back in the big leagues, coaching third base for the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.

"(Albert) Pujols almost got me one day. Line drive at the head," said DiSarcina, smiling as he sat in the visitors' clubhouse at Fenway Park on Tuesday afternoon.

Standing on a major league diamond again "somewhat fills that feeling of being a (major league) player again," said DiSarcina, 46. "You really feel like you can affect the team. I've sent some guys home that got thrown out and I felt like (bleep).

Angels star Mike Trout, right, celebrates a triple against Cleveland on April 28 with third-base coach Gary DiSarcina, a Billerica native.	AP PHOTOSun
Angels star Mike Trout, right, celebrates a triple against Cleveland on April 28 with third-base coach Gary DiSarcina, a Billerica native. AP PHOTO

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DiSarcina grew up in Billerica, lives in Plymouth, and during much of the last 10 years worked in the Red Sox's organization, including three seasons managing the Spinners (2007-09).

But he is an Angel at heart.

His 1,086 games played over 12 big league seasons (1989-2000) were all as an Angel. He was the Angels' starting shortstop for seven years. One of DiSarcina's greatest thrills came after he retired as a player -- throwing out the ceremonial first pitch before the Angels' 2002 ALDS-clincher against the Yankees.

"I wasn't in uniform, and 45,000 people remembered me and gave me a standing ovation," said DiSarcina.


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When those 2002 Angels went on to win the World Series over the San Francisco Giants, several veteran Angels telephoned DiSarcina from their champagne-soaked clubhouse to thank their former captain for helping show them the way.

"I would like to think wherever I'd go, I'd do a really good job because I take pride in what I do," said DiSarcina, who last off-season was interviewed for the Seattle Mariners' managerial job that went to Lloyd McClendon. "But it does mean something when you put this (Angels) uniform on. You feel like you're part of the fabric of this team."

Yet DiSarcina also remains a go-to guy for anyone seeking a Billerica-blunt assessment of the Red Sox's top prospects' assorted struggles this season. While at Pawtucket last season, his managing intersected with Xander Bogaerts, Jackie Bradley Jr., and Will Middlebrooks' stints in Triple-A. Middlebrooks, whom DiSarcina also managed in Lowell in 2008, received from DiSarcina an old-school definition of an "established" big leaguer after the third baseman was clearly disappointed when sent down from Boston last June.

No longer around these young Red Sox players on a daily basis, DiSarcina cannot speak to mechanical adjustments or confidence levels. What he knows is that expectations for Bogaerts and Bradley were ramped up considerably this season and that big league pitchers find weaknesses in young players and exploit them.

"It's up to him to adjust to it," DiSarcina said of Bogaerts. "(Hitting coach) Greg Colbrunn can't do it. (Manager) John Farrell can't do it. (Bench coach) Torey Lovullo can't do it for him. Xander Bogaerts has to do it. And it takes some time.

"Players learn through failure," said DiSarcina. "It's one thing to fail at the minor-league level. Nobody really cares. They just call it part of development. But when you don't find your way out of a slump at the major league level, it's magnified in the Boston market. It becomes bigger than it really is."

Bradley was sent back to Pawtucket on Monday.

DiSarcina received much praise for last year's Pawtucket-to-Boston shuttle that provided ready-to-go fill-ins such as Brock Holt, Brandon Snyder, Brandon Workman, Bradley and Bogaerts. It helped keep a championship team going.

For this valuable service, DiSarcina received a 2013 World Series ring from the Red Sox. He also has a Red Sox World Series ring from 2007 when he managed the Spinners. DiSarcina said he is more likely to wear the 2013 ring.

"Because of the number of guys who went up there (to Boston from Pawtucket), you feel like you impacted the major league team," said DiSarcina.

Back with the Angels, who have the best record in the majors (74-50), DiSarcina was expecting to see his son Gary Jr., 16, and daughter Carlee, 20, at Fenway on Tuesday night.

"They want to meet Mike Trout," he said.

Maybe the Red Sox rushed their kids in the hope of finding a Trout, who is a two-time AL MVP runner-up and is widely considered the best-all-around player in the game. He turned 23 two weeks ago.

"I never saw Mickey Mantle or Joe DiMaggio," said DiSarcina, who previously worked in the Angels front office in 2011-12 and first saw Trout in Double-A in 2011. "I can compare Mike to one of the guys I saw -- Bo Jackson. That's who he reminds me of. His presence and his physicality. Not a game goes by when I don't say, 'That's the best of the best right there. Don't get him hurt coming around third base.' "

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