SOUTH PORTLAND — Joe Oliver played under some tough managers, but he considers himself more easygoing than his mentors.

Oliver, 53, looked relaxed Tuesday evening when he was officially introduced as the new Portland Sea Dogs manager during the team’s annual Hot Stove Dinner at the Sable Oaks Marriott.

Before the dinner, the Sea Dogs also announced a two-year extension of their affiliation agreement with the Boston Red Sox, through the 2022 season.

The dinner featured former Red Sox reliever (and minor league pitching instructor) Keith Foulke, Sea Dogs infielder Nick Lovullo and Oliver.

Oliver, a former major league catcher for 13 seasons, and a World Series champion with the 1990 Cincinnati Reds, has been a minor league manager for the Red Sox since 2014.

He said his motto is simple: let the kids do their thing.

“I create a pretty relaxed environment,” Oliver said. “Use the iron fist when I need to. But for the most part, I kind of let the guys play.

“I’m up front with them. Treat them as I want to be treated. It’s ironic that I played with Lou Piniella (Reds) and Phil Garner (Brewers), some hard-nosed managers – that I needed. But I’m the exact opposite.”

Lovullo played parts of the past three seasons for Oliver in advanced Class A Salem.

“Just a tremendous guy with a great baseball mind,” Lovullo said. “From a baseball standpoint, he’s someone we can look up to and learn from.”

Ben Crockett, Red Sox Director of Player Development, said Oliver “is somebody that fights for his players. He can be tough when he needs to be. He doesn’t let guys slack, but at the same time, that relaxed environment has worked well for him.”

This will not be the first time Oliver has competed in Maine. While he played in the Eastern League in 1986 and ’87 (Vermont Reds), Portland did not have a team in the league. But Oliver did play in Old Orchard Beach in 1988, when his Nashville Triple-A team visited the Maine Phillies.

Oliver reached the big leagues the next year and, in 1990, was playing alongside Eric Davis, Paul O’Neill, Mariano Duncan and Barry Larkin, sweeping Oakland in the World Series.

“That was my (official) rookie season. We had such a young core. You naturally assume you’ll be back multiple times,” Oliver said. “You find out how humbling the game of baseball is.”

Oliver never got back to the playoffs with the Reds. His only other postseason appearance was in 2000 with the Mariners. One of the Seattle pitchers he caught was Paul Abbott, who was Oliver’s pitching coach for two years in Salem, and will be his coach again with the Sea Dogs. Abbott moved up to Portland last year.

“I’m excited to be working with Joe again,” Abbott said. “We talk the same baseball talk and have the same feel for the game.”

Oliver and Abbott could have some good feelings this season if some of the Salem pitchers from last year come to Portland. Left-handed prospect Darwinzon Hernandez was already promoted late in the 2018 season, and he could be joined by two other prospects, Tanner Houck and Jake Thompson.

“There are some young arms that are coming down the pike that Boston definitely should be excited about,” Oliver said. “And if they want to push them to me …

“You already saw Darwinzon. He’s electric.”

Third baseman Bobby Dalbec was another player promoted to Portland during the season. He should be back with the Sea Dogs, and joined by Salem shortstop C.J. Chatham. Both were invited to major league spring training camp.

“They’re special talents,” Oliver said.

The Red Sox will continue to send their talent through Portland. The extension to 2022 was the longest allowed under current major league rules.

“Or we would have made it longer,” Crockett said. “When you have such tremendous partners, with an organization like the Sea Dogs, it’s such a great fit for us.”

The Sea Dogs were first affiliated with the Marlins, from 1994 to 2002, moving to the Red Sox in 2003.

The 2019 season begins April 4 with a home game against Reading.

Kevin Thomas can be reached at 791-7411 or:

[email protected]

Twitter: @ClearTheBases


Comments are not available on this story.