Bruce Bochy has retired as Giants manager, but is he really done?


SAN FRANCISCO -- Bruce Bochy, always the strategist, went right back to work.

The former Giants manager had just spent nearly an hour getting honored on the field and was surprised by dozens of former players. He delivered an emotional speech and then hopped into a car for one last trip around Oracle Park. He nearly broke down as he gave the final press conference of his career. 

As Bochy walked through a back hallway and into the clubhouse one last time, he saw rookie infielder Mauricio Dubon. The 64-year-old sidestepped a couple of boxes filled with gear and put his hand on the 25-year-old's shoulder. 

"You've got to have some French background with a name like that," Bochy said. When Dubon told him he might, Bochy responded, "You're my shortstop."

Bochy will be managing next spring, taking control of an overmatched French team in WBC qualifying. His son, Brett, will come out of retirement to be part of the pitching staff. His brother, Joe, will be on the coaching staff. Perhaps Dubon really will be the shortstop. 

A man like Bruce Bochy can't stay away from the game for long. Whether the WBC or Little League, he was going to be standing in a dugout at some point next year. 

But will we see Bochy back in a major league dugout? After a retirement ceremony, that remained a somewhat open question. On the February day he announced the decision, Bochy paused for a moment when a reporter asked if he would "never manage again."

"Never is a big word,” he finally said. 

That was the theme throughout the season. Bochy isn't quite sure how he'll feel when pitchers and catchers report without him in February, so he has subtly left his options open. 

"I've said I'm good, but later on as you get away from the game, who knows how you're going to react," Bochy said this week. "I don't think anyone knows until they get to that point."

Bochy has reached the start of that process, and for now, this much is known: He won't be managing next year.

Yes, the suddenly available San Diego Padres job is one that has been in the back of his head at times, but the timing isn't right. The Cubs, or perhaps Mets or Phillies, could be intriguing to any veteran manager, but Bochy is committed to taking at least a year off. 

Those are the types of jobs, though, that everyone should keep an eye on in the future. Above all, Bochy wants to compete. Forget about a job's location, or league, or history. If he were to return, it would be in a place where he felt he would be deftly maneuvering his way through games that October. 

There are other factors at play, too. Bochy and Joe Maddon were the two highest-paid managers in the game at around $6 million per year, and that's no longer the going rate. You can bet some close to Bochy will keep an eye on Maddon's own search and new contract after he was let go by the Cubs. 

Then there's the state of the game. Young executives prefer to hire young managers that they can mold in their own image. Around the league, lineups are being handed down from the front office. That was never the case with Farhan Zaidi, and by all accounts, the two men had a great working relationship, but perhaps another executive would be hesitant to turn over so much of the power in the clubhouse. 

Madison Bumgarner noted those changes recently when asked if Bochy really was done. He said he could "maybe" see Bochy returning. 

"He's done this his entire life and he still enjoys it," Bumgarner said. "I think it's just, if maybe the opportunity is just right for him, whatever it is, depending on the direction the game goes. It's changed so much over the last 10 years. It's always changing but I feel like the last 10 years it's changed dramatically."

Bochy has changed, too. He cut back on Bumgarner's workload this year and became more aggressive about keeping starters from facing a lineup a third time. He has always liked a good left-right matchup, but there were a few more platoons this season than in the past. In part by necessity, more young players saw the field for Bochy. He even started three rookies in his final game. 

The core Giants have seen that evolution, but they're split on whether they've seen the last of Bochy in a big league dugout. Brandon Crawford said he "wouldn't be surprised" if Bochy managed again. But across the room, Buster Posey shook his head.

"I don't (think he will). That's just my gut feeling," he said. "I just think that he's got a couple of grandkids and another one on the way. I think there are other things he wants to do. I could be wrong, though."

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If this truly is the end, remember the middle part of that quote. On a day when he nearly broke down multiple times, Bochy's biggest smile came just before the game. He stood in the dugout as lineups were introduced and held his young grandson, who tipped his cap to a sellout crowd giving a standing ovation. 

The next stop for Bochy will not be Petco Park or Wrigley Field or some other ballpark. It will be his home, where he'll trade nine innings for hours of babysitting. He's looking forward to it, and he plans to embrace it. The rest can be figured out over time. 

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