Dombrowski: 'Mixed emotions' facing Tigers

Former Detroit executive happy in Boston front office

Dombrowski: 'Mixed emotions' facing Tigers

BOSTON -- Though Dave Dombrowski has been the president of baseball operations with the Red Sox for almost a year, Monday marked the first time he was in the same ballpark as the Tigers since his 14-year association with that club ended Aug. 5, 2015.

Sure, there were some emotions for the veteran executive leading up to the start of a three-game series between the Red Sox and Tigers, and how could there not be?

"It's unusual. It's different," Dombrowski said before Boston's 4-2 loss to Detroit. "It's one of those situations where I wasn't sure how I would feel about it. But I guess after all those years and friendships, there's a little bit of mixed emotions. But it was just an interesting time because when I walked out on the field today, the Tigers were taking early hitting, so I had a chance to run into a lot of the guys staff-wise and players and it was very comfortable to say hello to them."

Under Dombrowski's watch, the Tigers made it to the World Series twice, losing to the Cardinals in 2006 and the Giants in '12.

"We were so close so many times. We won the division four years in a row, went to the World Series twice," Dombrowski said. "I think we had a lot of good years in the organization. Really kind of came back from when I originally joined it. But if there was one thing if you say what do you wish you had accomplished, it would have been a World [Series] championship. We were so close. Such great players there during that time period. So many great games, great moments but we fell short a couple times."

The sting of the Tigers relieving Dombrowski of his duties still lingers a bit, to the point where he declined to recall his emotions from that day when given the chance Monday.

But he has no regrets about the place he wound up. The Red Sox are in the thick of the American League East race, and Dombrowski has already made several key acquisitions during his 11 months in Boston.

"It's a very enjoyable situation," Dombrowski said. "We have a very passionate baseball city. They treat me well and have a great organization. The transition is going well with my family, so everything is good."

Al Avila -- Dombrowski's long-time assistant in Detroit -- replaced him as the leader of the Tigers' front office.

"It's fine. We haven't talked for a while, but I don't really pick up the phone and call a lot of people from Detroit," said Dombrowski. "Not that I don't maintain a lot of close friendships, but it was the same thing when I was with Montreal. We worked together for a long, long time and I'm very happy for his situation and I'm sure I'll run into him when I get a chance here."

During the three games in Boston this week and the four at Detroit from Aug. 18-21, Dombrowski's emotions will no longer be mixed.

"Frankly, I hope we beat them three games in a row," said Dombrowski. "Just say you have your best friend and you play them in a sporting event, which I have many times throughout my lifetime, you try to win those with all your heart, and they try to beat you with all their heart, and after you're still friends. I follow them with a close eye because I was there for a long time and I have a significant friendship with a lot of them."

Ian Browne has covered the Red Sox for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne and Facebook. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.