McClure applies light touch as Sox' new pitching coach

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McClure applies light touch as Sox' new pitching coach

FORT MYERS, Fla. Bob McClure joined the Red Sox in November as a special assignment scoutinstructor. But in the teams offseason of shakeups, McClures job changed in December and he was named the pitching coach for new manager Bobby Valentine.

Now, McClure the third pitching coach in as many seasons for the Sox -- is spending his time in spring training learning about the 35 pitchers in camp.

Its more getting to know the Sox pitchers as people, what helps them, if I can be of any help to them, what kind of keeps them on line, what they need, said McClure, who spent the previous six seasons as the Royals pitching coach, and coached in the Rockies system for seven seasons before that. "A lot of them Ive already asked, What are some of your key points as far as your deliverys concerned? In the past, what are two or three points that need to be mentioned at times? if things arent going right for them from a mechanical standpoint. And so they write them down and give them to you and you kind of go from there.

McClure -- who spent 19 seasons in the big leagues and had a record of 68-57 with a 3.81 ERA and 52 saves - knows that sometimes, the off-field part of his job can be as important than spotting flaws in deliveries. In 2009, for example, he helped Zack Greinke, who suffered from social anxiety disorder and depression, win the American League Cy Young Award when both were with the Royals.

Its more learning, really, their personalities as far as which guys to leave alone and know when to leave alone, and which guys you need to get in there and dig a little bit, he said.

With a lot of guys, basically as pitching coaches, were not trying to reinvent the wheel. Were just trying to keep them pretty much on line. Its just little things. I think sometimes less is better, in my opinion.

"Thats the way we were brought through it. We didnt even have pitching coaches in the minor leagues. Shoot, our manager and pitching coach hardly even talked to us, really, and if they did, you knew you were either doing really good or you were in trouble. So if they kind of left you alone it was because you were going okay, which most times you know anyway."

And McClure -- the pitcher -- liked it that way.

"I didnt like a a pitching coach chirping in my ear all the time," he said. "I liked to kind of feel my body and let my mind figure out what its doing and fix it on the next pitch. And when someones always chirping in your ear in between innings, a lot of times you lose kind of your concentration on what just happened and then you got to regain it after the conversation. The next thing you know . . . youre going back to the mound and youre still thinking about that other inning. So theres a time there where youre processing, good inning or bad inning, what happened, and whos coming up. What you want to do.

"So a lot of times as a pitching coach you kind of just get out of the way.

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.