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.