ST. PETERSBURG -- Like probably every team around Major League Baseball, the Red Sox were somewhat stunned to see Ned Yost let go as manager of the Milwaukee Brewers with less than two weeks left in the season and the club on pace to make the postseason.
The difference, however, is that the Sox are a lot more familiar with the man who has suddenly been handed the opportunity to guide the Brewers the rest of the way.
Dale Sveum was the third-base coach of the Red Sox for two seasons (2004-05), but in a way, it felt longer.
During that time, he grew to be one of manager Terry Francona's "best friends in baseball." Red Sox catcher Jason Varitek refers to Sveum as "one of my all-time favorite coaches."
So yes, they are very much rooting for Sveum to succeed within the confines of the Boston clubhouse.
There's no question Sveum has been put in a unique situation. But according to those who know him well, he might have just the temperament and knowledge to make it work.
"I've got mixed emotions when anybody gets let go," said Francona. "But he's one of my better friends in the game. It's certainly extraordinary. It's an interesting time to start your managerial career. I hope CC [Sabathia's] pitching the first game. We just tried to leave him a message."
Undoubtedly, Francona and Sveum will find a time to talk over the next few days. But Francona said he doesn't feel the need to give Sveum advice.
"The players really like Dale -- a lot," said Francona. "They should. He's got a way of, in my opinion, being able to get a point across. He really did a good job."
Though Sveum took abuse from the talk-show circuit in Boston for having a few runners thrown at the plate while he was the third-base coach, he even turned that into a positive, earning respect within the clubhouse for the way he handled all the scrutiny. Perhaps that thick skin will never work better for Sveum than over these next couple of weeks.
Varitek's emotions were somewhat mixed because he also considers Yost a good friend.
"It puts you in a difficult spot, period, because you don't have much time to coach," said Varitek. "I know Ned, too. Ned is a pretty doggone good human being. Dale is a baseball guy. He understands so many different facets of the game. He's been a great teaching tool.
"He definitely has the knowledge, absolutely. He's a coach. But it's kind of difficult because it's one of my all-time favorite coaches in Dale, and then somebody I respect very much in Ned Yost."
Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.