The Red Sox are down to the final 10 games of their season, which means Don Orsillo is down to the final 10 games of his 15-season run as the play-by-play voice of the team on NESN.
The network’s decision to replace the popular Orsillo with Dave O’Brien next season generated extraordinary local backlash when the story broke Aug. 25. Fans are certain to give Orsillo a warm sendoff at Fenway during the disappointing season’s waning days.
But those who aren’t satisfied with the explanation for the decision — team chairman Tom Werner has told other media outlets that the Orsillo-for-O’Brien swap was made to “reenergize” the broadcast — can take solace in an emerging truth.
Career-wise, Orsillo may end up in a sunnier place.
According to sources with knowledge of the situation, the San Diego Padres are aggressively pursuing Orsillo for a significant role with their television broadcast team on Fox Sports San Diego.
Orsillo has spoken with the Padres about a long-term contract that includes an opportunity to broadcast some national games for parent company Fox Sports.
The Padres possibility makes sense. Dick Enberg, a broadcasting legend who currently calls Padres games, is 80 years old and announced Wednesday night that 2016 would be his final season. It’s uncertain how Orsillo would fit in next year if he lands in San Diego, but Enberg already works a reduced schedule — he’ll call in the vicinity of 140 games this year.
Former Red Sox executive Mike Dee is the Padres’ president and CEO. Orsillo has long had Dee’s respect, and Padres owner Ron Fowler is also said to be a fan. The downside to a move to the West Coast is a personal one. Orsillo has two daughters from a previous marriage, and he lives in Smithfield, R.I., now to be close to them.
According to Orsillo’s agent, Brad Blank, other franchises (one is believed to be the Dodgers) have shown interest in hiring the broadcaster. ESPN also has reached out. But the Padres possibility is the clear front-runner. A deal is unlikely to be official until around Oct. 4, when the Red Sox season ends and Orsillo can turn his attention toward considering the possibilities.
“Don has drawn a lot of interest, and San Diego has been incredibly gracious, but there are elements to any deal that still need to be sorted out,” said Blank. “We’re not popping the champagne bottles just yet.”
Credit to the Boston Globe who originally published this article