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


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.

Haggerty: Subban looking more like a 1st-round bust than NHL goalie

Haggerty: Subban looking more like a 1st-round bust than NHL goalie

BOSTON, Mass – Malcolm Subban says that he believes that he can still be a No. 1 goaltender in the NHL.

While that’s admirable on some level for the sheer, brazen self-confidence involved in saying this after getting yanked from a 5-0 loss to the Minnesota Wild at TD Garden, pretty much all of the evidence points out the contrary. Nearly two years after getting pulled from his NHL debut in against the St. Louis Blues after giving up three goals on six shots, Subban was pulled from Tuesday night’s appearance after giving up three goals on eight second period shots with the Bruins desperately in need of a quality start in goal.

He maintained a defiantly confident tone after another humbling NHL effort against Minnesota, and that’s a testament to the maturity and mental toughness of the person behind the goalie mask.

“It sucks. Obviously, I’m just trying to finish the game, let alone win one. Obviously it sucks, but what can you do now, right?” said Subban, who has now allowed six goals on 22 career shots faced in two starts. “Obviously I want to be a number one goaltender in the league. I was a high pick for a reason. I have the potential, and I just have to show it. Obviously I haven’t done that so far yet, but I think I’m getting closer to it. Honestly, I think I can do it right now. I just got to show it. Obviously, I didn’t [do it] today, but tomorrow’s a new day.”

Given the stunningly bad quality of his two NHL starts combined with a thoroughly pedestrian body of work at the AHL level over the last three years, there is literally zero tangible evidence Subban is tracking to be a franchise goaltender. Instead he’s the emergency goaltender called on by the Bruins only after Tuukka Rask and Anton Khudobin have both been shelved by injuries, and he’s now flunked the two pop quizzes when the NHL team needed him to come through.

Meanwhile, a sizeable selection of goaltenders taken after him in the 2012 NHL Draft class have already proven their NHL worth and broken through at the elite level: Matt Murray, Frederik Anderson, Connor Hellebuyck and Joonas Korpisalo.

Subban was hoping all along to break through this season in Boston, but things went south on him quickly with a Bruins team not playing well in front of him. The first goal was a fluttering Charlie Coyle shot that trickled between his glove hand and the top of his leg pad. The third goal was a softie low and to the glove side, power play strike authored by Ryan Suter. It added up to poor goaltending and shoddy defense, but it also added up to a Bruins goaltender that didn’t even give his hockey club a chance to win.

“It could be a combination of both. There are some goals – I’m not going to lie – there are some goals that we thought our goaltenders should have had. But I’m not here to talk about a goaltender who’s in one of his first few games because he let in a couple of bad goals,” said Julien. “We were terrible in front of him and we weren’t any better, and that’s the big picture. That’s more important.

“I don’t care who’s in net. I think when you have some injuries you need to be better in those situations and we weren’t good enough tonight. It doesn’t matter if Tuukka [Rask] is in net and we had injuries up front, or we’re lacking players here or there. You’ve got to let the system take care of the game. If you play it the right way, you have a chance to win. When you don’t, you don’t. That’s what happened [against Minnesota].”

There’s no question the defense in front of Subban wasn’t nearly good enough, and Adam McQuaid and Torey Krug in particular struggled to lock things down in the defensive zone. The wide open shots from the slot - like the Chris Stewart score in the second period that arrived 12 seconds after Minnesota’s opening goal - are indicative of a hockey club that’s not sticking to the game plan once things start to get a little wonky.

But this is about a player in Subban that should be entering the NHL stage of his career after being a first round pick in the 2012 NHL Draft, and anybody would be hard-pressed to see him as an NHL goalie after failing in each of his first two NHL starts. Combine that with the lack of dominance at the AHL level over the last three years, and there’s a better chance that Subban will be a major first round bust for the Bruins rather than suddenly develop into a late-blooming No. 1 goaltender in Boston.

The scary part is that Subban and fellow young netminder Zane McIntyre are all the Bruins have for Wednesday night’s game at Madison Square Garden, and perhaps longer than that if Rask can’t make rapid progress with his lower body injury.

Maybe Subban can be a bit better than he’s shown thus far, and the four goals allowed to Minnesota were not all his fault. The bottom line, however, is that Subban should be up for doing this job right now. Tuesday was a big chance for the young goalie to make a statement that he was ready for it.

Instead he looked like the same goalie that’s been pulled from two of his first four AHL starts this season, and plays like a goaltender that’s never going to truly be ready for the call in Boston.