The Los Angeles Angels' Jose Rojas, right, celebrates with third base coach Brian Butterfield after hitting a two-run home run during the fourth inning of a baseball game against the Chicago White Sox in Chicago, Thursday, Sept. 16, 2021. Credit: Nam Y. Huh / AP

Orono native Brian Butterfield is returning to Major League Baseball but only on a temporary basis.

After spending 37 years as a coach in professional baseball, he would have been the third base coach and infield instructor for the New York Mets this past season. But it never materialized because Butterfield refuses to get vaccinated against COVID-19.

So now, he will be the Arizona Diamondbacks’ infield instructor for two months starting Feb. 1 He will be filling in for infield instructor and third base coach Tony Perezchica, who will be coaching in the World Baseball Classic.

Butterfield worked with Diamondbacks manager Torey Lovullo when they were both on the Boston Red Sox coaching staff under manager John Farrell when the team won the World Series in 2013. Lovullo, who has helmed his team since 2016, offered him the temporary gig.

The spring training site is Salt River Fields at Talking Stick near Scottsdale, Arizona, and Butterfield said he was looking forward to a return to baseball with a more-certain end date.

“The thought of my wife Jan (Walton) taking me to the airport in the beginning of February, kissing her good-bye and saying I’ll see you around Halloween isn’t any fun at all,” the 65-year-old Butterfield said.

Butterfield was last with the Los Angeles Angels two years ago as their infield instructor and third base coach. He was one of three Angels coaches released after the 2021 season. In his second and final season with the Angels during the pandemic, he went nine months without seeing his family.

The son of former University of Maine baseball coach and New York Yankees executive Jack Butterfield and his wife, Pat, didn’t rule out returning to Major League baseball as a full-time coach, saying there might be something closer to his Standish home.

“At this stage of my life, I’m being choosy,” he said.

This job did not take much prodding for Butterfield to accept because of his connections to Lovullo as well as general manager Mike Hazen, who worked in the Red Sox front office from 2006 to 2016, ending his tenure as general manager.

He intends to have conversations with Hazen about returning to baseball full-time in other capacities, including by serving as a consultant or advisor.

“I don’t want to limit myself to just putting on a uniform and being an on-field guy,” he said.

Butterfield still will not get vaccinated, but he noted that things have changed and some organizations aren’t requiring it any more. Some unvaccinated coaches worked from spring training all the way through the 2022 season’s end, he said.

The former three-sports standout at Orono High School and University of Maine and Florida Southern second baseman became a roving infield instructor in the Yankees organization after his pro playing career ended.

He managed three Yankee minor league teams before then-manager Buck Showalter picked him to be his first base coach with the Yankees in 1995.

One of the best infield instructors in the game, Butterfield followed Showalter to Arizona and then spent a couple of years with the Yankees. He then spent 10 1/2 years with the Toronto Blue Jays, six years with the Red Sox, two with the Chicago Cubs and two with the Angels.

He said he has thoroughly enjoyed his time with Jan and family, including three grandchildren, learning how to live a more normal life away from the game.

“After doing the same thing for 40 years, taking my wife on a date for lunch and doing some cutting and clearing [of brush and trees] out back has been kind of fun,” he said.

Butterfield did not watch a lot of baseball this year but was impressed with former UMaine shortstop Jeremy Pena, the Houston Astros rookie named the most valuable player of both the American League championship series and the World Series and also earned a Gold Glove.

All of that came after Pena was called upon to replace All-Star Carlos Correa, who went to the Minnesota Twins after last season.

“This kid comes in and they didn’t miss a beat,” Butterfield said. “He did it all.”