Nieves eager to start new job as Red Sox' pitching coach

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Nieves eager to start new job as Red Sox' pitching coach

BOSTON New Red Sox pitching coach Juan Nieves has talked with all his pitchers, including some who are out the country (such as left-hander Franklin Morales, who is playing in the Venezuelan League, and Alfredo Aceves, who is in Mexico). Hes even talked with some who are no longer with the team. Nieves, 47, had served as the White Sox bullpen for the past five seasons, learning under pitching coach Don Cooper. Prior to that, he had served as a pitching coach in the White Sox organization since 1999. It was a pleasure being with Don for so many years, Nieves said. Hes great, not just a mentor but a great friend. We were able to do everything together. We even travelled together in spring training, roomed together. It was everything. I will still talk to him and well still be friends. 
"But its exciting to meet a new group of guys and to get to know everyone's program. Its so important. One of the things that I enjoy the most is the fact that manager John Farrell already has a rapport with many of the Red Sox pitchers, built during his time as the team's pitching coach from 2007-10. So its almost a continuation. As a first-time pitching coach on a major league staff he just wants to say hello to his pitchers, get to know them, give them a chance to get to know him. Hes been watching video, learning their tendencies.  In January, hell visit with some. Hopefully as many as possible within the time frame, Nieves said. I know its hard for them because it would be a one-day situation in which I leave home in the morning, come back. I dont want to take a lot of time. I know this is a very precious time for them, too, which is the holidays, family, the tradition. Listen, well spend enough time together during the season. But its nice to be able to see as many guys as I can reach. It will be great. And also the catchers. Its very important to me just to get acquainted with them. One of the first trips he will make will be to Mississippi to see Daniel Bard. As we were talking on the phone he was going to the woods, he was hunting. So he gave me about 15 minutes of his time for that, Nieves said. But we were just talking on the phone and he said he was going to start throwing in January. Hell probably start throwing a little long toss now. But just to see him throw and play catch with him and see what the progress is what the plan is. Itll be great. Bard will be Nieves' major reclamation project after the right-handers disastrous 2012. I didnt see him early, Nieves said. I think by the time the White Sox played the Red Sox, he wasnt around. So I never really had  a chance to really see him, only through video. But we want to get back to the 2011 Bard and thats a guy that is in there. Another important goal for Nieves is establishing accountability for the starting pitchers. A strong starting five can only lead to success for the entire staff, he believes.  Its an aspect of the team that certainly needed improvement last season. You know something, you dont have to  have five No. 1 guys or five No. 5 guys in a rotation to be successful, he said. I think you expect your 1-2-3 to be consistent, hopefully your 4 and 5 eventually. Its nice when they eventually pick and choose during the course of the season they throw like a 1 and 2 maybe for a month-and-a-half, you never know,. Youve seen flashes of Gavin Floyd doing it before with the White Sox and he picked up maybe when Jake Peavey was not as good. So its important to have a couple guys going well at the same time. Also, like John said when we talked previously in our interview, you help your bullpen stay fresh and thats important. I think accountably for the starting five is very important. It was proven in Chicago and were going to stress that here. You see it with teams like Tampa bay. When  you have a strong five its nice to keep you bullpen nice and healthy, and not only healthy but fresh.

Rask: Last season 'something to rebound from' personally

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Rask: Last season 'something to rebound from' personally

BRIGHTON, Mass. – While David Pastrnak, Tuukka Rask and David Backes are back from competing in the World Cup of Hockey in Toronto, that doesn’t mean you’ll see those players on the ice over the next couple of days. Perhaps the trio will practice on Monday in the fourth on-ice session at main training camp, but Bruins GM Don Sweeney confirmed that none of those returning players will suit up against the Columbus Blue Jackets in the B’s preseason debut at TD Garden on Monday night.

“Yeah…absolutely,” said Sweeney when asked if those three players have been ruled out for Monday night. “They’re going to get through the weekend here. Next week, we’ll evaluate [them] when they get on the ice. But, all those guys will not be on the ice until next week.

“It might be case-by-case for each guy. Those guys have been playing for a while at a high level. It’s unique for David Backes coming into the organization, so he’d like to integrate himself. I talked yesterday with all three of them just to get a read of where they’re at. But, sometime first of next week, they’ll be on [the ice].”

Both Pastrnak and Rask have checked in with the Bruins media over the last couple of days after returning from Toronto, and the Bruins goaltender, in particular, has plenty of motivation coming off a down statistical season. The 2.56 goals against average and .915 save percentage were well below his career numbers, and people like B’s President Cam Neely have pointed to Rask as somebody that needs to have a better season for Boston to rebound back into the playoffs this year.

“There were a couple of years where the standards pretty high, so obviously when they go down there’s something to rebound from. You kind of know where you can be. That’s where I try to be every year and I’m working on being there this year, and taking us to the playoffs and moving forward,” said Rask. “But every year is a new year where you’ve got to work hard, and set your goals to be at your best. More often than not you hope [being at your best] is going to happen, and I hope this year is going to be a great year for us.”

Clearly Rask wasn’t alone in his struggles last season behind a mistake-prone defense that allowed plenty of Grade chances, and that could be a repeating phenomenon again this season for the Bruins unless the defense is substantially upgraded along the way.

As far as the other three B’s players still taking part in the World Cup, it could be a while for Patrice and Brad Marchand as Team Canada has advanced to the final best-of-three series that could also feature Zdeno Chara if Team Europe is victorious.