Red Sox manager John Farrell named Greg Colbrunn hitting coach on Wednesday.As weve done with every position on the staff, we sought people who had great communication skills, they had a very solid personal experience level to tap into, Farrell said during a Wednesday afternoon conference call to introduce Colbrunn.And the more we did our homework and found out things indirectly from Greg it became through that process that he was a strong candidate. As we went through the interview process it became very clear that not only does he have a wealth of knowledge as far as hitting goes, but the ability to relate, at least in that interview process, it felt like that would certainly carry over to dealing with our hitters. His fundamental approach or approach to hitting is aligned with what we value. And all things considered, this became a very clear choice as we went through that process.The hiring of Colbrunn nearly completes Farrells staff. He is still looking for an assistant hitting coach. While Farrell said he is not close to naming anyone to that position, Victor Rodriguez, who has coached in the Sox organization since 1995, including serving as the minor league hitting coordinator for the last six seasons, would be a leading candidate for this second position.Colbrunn, 43, played 13 major league seasons with the Diamondbacks, Marlins, Braves, Expos, Twins, Rockies, and Mariners, ending his playing career in 2005 with 11 games for the Rangers Triple-A affiliate. He hit .289 with a .338 on-base percentage and .460 slugging percentage over his career.This is his first major-league coaching job.He has spent the past six seasons with the Yankees Single-A Charleston River Dogs. From 2007-09 and 2011-12 he was the teams hitting coach, and in 2010 he was the manager. His team hit .268, fourth in the 14-team South Atlantic League last season, with a .334 OBP (sixth) and .394 SLG (sixth). Colbrunn is highly regarded within the Yankees organization and has had other opportunities with major league teams in the past. None appealed to him until now.Ive had a couple opportunities in the past, move up or doing something different than being here in Charleston, but nothing ever really sounded too good or anything until this offseason and then this situation came up, the opportunity came up, said Colbrunn, who lives in the Charleston area. After going through the interview process and my wifes being from Connecticut and all that, its a great opportunity.Colbrunn knows he will have different challenges dealing with major league hitters than he had working with young players in the low minors.The biggest challenge we went over this a couple of days ago in the interview process the biggest challenge for me as hitting coach coming from A-ball to the big leagues is dealing with big leaguers and dealing with all their personalities and getting them all locked in on the same page and things like that, he said. But the biggest thing for me as a hitting coach is getting to know the starting pitchers and the pitchers throughout the American League and the National League.Spending six years in A-ball you dont really get a chance to sit around and watch that many games. So getting to know the pitchers, their tendencies, watching our hitters, learning our hitters, and building relationships with our hitters is probably the most important thing thats going to be the biggest challenge.But just going about it on a daily basis and thats part of the challenge to it but thats the fun of it, too. So probably building relationships. And its probably when I first started coaching here in A-ball, it was a little different because I spent so much time in the big leagues and then coming down to A-ball my expectations about players and their talent. It took me till probably about halfway through my first year I had to realize we are dealing with first-year guys and just getting them to show up in the cage every day or keeping them on the same path on a daily basis was the hardest thing. So in the big leagues, they have the work ethic or they wouldnt be there. They can hit, and now just keeping them going good, getting them feeling, build up their confidence and keeping them locked in for as long as you can.Colbrunn said he expects to visit with some of his new players during the offseason, getting to know them, earning their trust.When you start being a hitting coach with somebody its about trust and earning that trust over time, he said. And me coming in and replacing former Sox hitting coach Dave Magadan, who Ive known and I played with him, what a tremendous person and he did such a tremendous job for the Red Sox. Getting to know them, getting to know them on a personal basis, finding out what makes them tick, what they can do, and just trying to start that off instead of waiting till spring training. So over the course of the winter Ill start building those relationships up.Farrell is pleased with the staff he has put together Colbrunn, bench coach Torey Lovullo, pitching coach Juan Nieves, third base coach Brian Butterfield, first base coach Arnie Beyeler, and bullpen coach Gary Tuck.Very happy, Farrell said. In large in part not only because of the experiences and the success that each have had individually, but the people that they are. I felt this was, it was important to have characteristics that each possessed. And I can say to a man that they do. And thats the players well-being, their career thats the forefront of everyones mind. Its not about the coach, its about the player. Yes, we will hold players accountable to the individual needs and to our team goals but to have people that are not only dedicated but they communicate and teach, that common thread, thats a common thread that links all of us together and very excited about the group thats been put together.
BRIGHTON, Mass – It certainly sounded like there were some things that made the Wednesday night loss in Detroit a little different for the Bruins.
The Bruins media corps conducted postgame interviews in the hallway rather than in the visiting dressing room after what must have been a combustible atmosphere immediately following the shootout defeat.
There was also evidence of anger in the visitor’s dressing room at Joe Louis Arena, according to reports, with a door off its hinges when the media was able to get a look inside the dressing room area.
David Backes confirmed something was different about the loss after blowing a pair of three-goal leads, and failing to follow up their dreadful no-show vs. the Islanders with a winning performance against another bad team in Detroit. The B’s forward said the plane ride home from Detroit was solemn and quiet, and that it was clear the Bruins team was “wounded” after a crushing loss.
“Both [losses] can be great lessons if we learn from it, and neither was very enjoyable. That was probably the quietest I think our guys were all year on that plane ride home from Detroit,” said Backes. “To me, that’s a great sign that it hit us in the heart, and it hit us where it really mattered. We’re thinking about how we can turn the tide and thinking about we can be victorious the next time out.
“We had the lead, and in a lot of instances you’re expecting, as you should, to come out of there with two points. We’re at the time in the season where wins need to be garnered and taken home.
“There were a lot of aspects where we should have grabbed the game back. When you feel like you’ve had a lot of opportunities to take the game and you don’t do it, it’s not a good feeling. I was reflecting on that during a very quiet team plane ride back from Detroit, and it seemed pretty clear that the whole team was feeling wounded. I think it’s a good sign that guys were feeling that way, and that means they’re going to do everything in their power to not have that feeling again.”
The words are encouraging from a 32-year-old natural leader in Backes, who has seen good times and bad as captain of the St. Louis Blues in his 10-year NHL career. But the proof is ultimately on the ice where the Bruins have games against the Blackhawks and Penguins coming up and face some very stiff tests coming off a couple of losses against the worst teams in the East that exposed Black and Gold fragility at this point in the season.
BRIGHTON, Mass – The Bruins, looking for a spark after terrible, back-to-back losses to the New York Islanders and Detroit Red Wings, are hoping the return of Matt Beleskey from a knee injury can help provide the inspiration.
The blue-collar left winger has missed the past 23 games with a torn MCL in his right knee suffered in early December against the Buffalo Sabres, but now he’s easing back into the lineup on the fourth line in Friday night’s showdown with the Chicago Blackhawks.
Beleskey was skating with Dominic Moore and Austin Czarnik on the fourth line at morning skate at Warrior Ice Arena and should be expected to throw a few hard hits and play with some intensity in his return.
“I’m ready to go and excited to get back out there,” said Beleskey, who has been skating with the team for roughly a week after giving the knee sufficient time to heal. “I’ve just got to keep it simple and do what I do well: Be hard on pucks, take the body and just try and find your groove. You don’t want to expect too much in your first game back, but you just want to be able to contribute.
“’I’ve been saving [the pent-up energy] for a while, so I’m ready to get back out there and hopefully provide a spark for us.”
The Beleskey return also provides the player with a bit of a reset button after a slow start to the season that saw him with two goals and five points along with a minus-6 rating in 24 games played for the Black and Gold prior to his injury. Here are the projected line combos and D-pairs against the Blackhawks based on morning skate today: