McClure heeds Mom's advice, takes Sox job

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McClure heeds Mom's advice, takes Sox job

BOSTON -- Bob McClure joined the Red Sox earlier this offseason as a special assignment scoutinstructor. But, when he was approached about the pitching coach job he was admonished by an irrefutable source to strongly consider the job.

"When the opportunity came up I really had to give it some thought," McClure said on a Friday afternoon conference call with manager Bobby Valentine.

"This is an opportunity to be with one of the best organizations in baseball. Its a very good club, plan on going to the playoffsthose kind of thingsand to cap it all off, my mom, who is 86, 87, is from the area and she said if I did not consider it then she was actually going to kill me. So I felt I better."

For Valentine, communicationwas key.

"I need someone who could communicate up and down, communicate with me what the needs of the pitchers were and able to communicate with the pitchers what their daily needs might be," he said. "I was looking for someone who had experience obviously at the major league level but also someone who understood both starting and relieving as a pitcher. Bob understood not only the mechanics of pitching but also the mechanics of working a long season. So he filled the bill on all of those things and he also has a -- as Robin Yount would say -- a real true grit to him. He can be very sociable and jovial but he also can be stern when he needs to be and I think thats a good prerequisite for this job."

McClure, 59, spent the last six seasons as the pitching coach for the Kansas City Royals, before being let go at the end of the season. Prior to joining the Royals, he was a minor league pitching coach in the Rockies system for seven seasons. He began his coaching career with the Marlins in 1994 and also served as a scout with the Marlins in 1996. A left-handed pitcher, he played 19 seasons with the Royals, Brewers, Expos, Mets, Angels, Cardinals, and Marlins (1993), compiling a 68-57 record with 52 saves and a 3.81 ERA in 698 career games (73 starts).

This will be the first time Valentine and McClure will be working together.

"I knew Bob from afar," Valentine said. "He pitched in a couple of decades and I had been around in a couple of those decades. I watched his competitiveness and his love for the game. He was one of those guys who seemed to always be on the field and always wanting to get better. What went into the decision was namely an interview, a couple of interviews actually, a few recommendations that were made from within the organization and then I went outside the organization and I talked to people in Colorado where Bob worked and in Kansas City, who I trust and I believe in their baseball acumen and they gave him very high grades in all the skill sets that I was looking for.

"The process has taken a while mainly because Ive been in the game for a long time and there are a lot of friends and acquaintances and even competitors that I owed the respect to them when they would recommend someone to try to reach out to whoever it was that was recommended to me or even anybody that I had on my list. So we did a real extensive search and I felt as I told Bob right from the first interview that he was right out in front of everyone else and after all the other interviews came in he remained at the top."

For McClure, getting to know his pitchers will be his main priority.

"My first order of business would be to get with Bobby and discuss what he wants as we're getting ready for spring training," McClure said. "and once Bobby and I have sat down and hes discussed his issues and his needs, then what Ill do is, of course, is contact the other staff members, get to know them, and also contact the pitchers this winter and just talk to them on the phone, and maybe see some of them. But as far as the pitchers go is really just getting to know them first because the approaches are different depending on personalities and what guys needs are and things like that."

While McClure is, of course, aware of the Sox' collapse in September, he deferred addressing it at this time.

"That's not something really that Im ready to discuss at this point as far as that goes," he said. "I need to talk to them, get their feelings on it and kind of go from there."

Three things we learned from the Red Sox' 2-1 loss to the Twins

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Three things we learned from the Red Sox' 2-1 loss to the Twins

Three Things we learned from the Boston Red Sox' 2-1 loss to the Minnesota Twins:

1) It only seems like David Ortiz can come through every time.

When Ortiz comes to the plate as he did Friday night -- bases loaded, no out, bottom of the ninth, Red Sox trailing by a run -- it seems like a win is a fait accompli.

"I think everybody in the ballpark just assumed this one might have a chance to be ended right there,'' said John Farrell. "He's been so big for us that everybody in the dugout felt the same way -- confident that the stage was set for him to come through with another dramatic moment.''

Instead, Ortiz rolled over a ground ball to second, and with the Twins infield drawn in, it was enough to turn a 4-2-3 double play that took the starch out of the inning for the Sox.

If anything, though, the inning revealed how remarkable Ortiz has been so often. It's not easy to come through even most times, and it's certainly far from automatic.

"The pitcher (closer Brandon Kintzler) made good pitches,'' said Ortiz. "That's the name of the game. I'm always looking forward to something happening. It just doesn't work out all the time.''

2) Eduardo Rodriguez has his slider back.

When Rodriguez endured a rough stretch in late May and June, he seemed to all but abandon his slider, relying almost exclusively on his two-seam fastball and changeup.

But since returning from a stint in Pawtucket, Rodriguez has flashed the slider that made him so effective as a rookie last season.

"Since he's come back,'' said Farrell, "he's added much more depth. He's able to get to the back foot of some righthanders for some swing-and-miss. He was on the plate with three quality pitches for strikes tonight.''

"I feel like I can locate it better, where I want it,'' confirmed Rodriguez. "Outside, inside corner...I'm getting more confident in it. I think I got out of my mind the tipping (pitches) stuff and all that stuff and I'm just working to throw the ball right where I want it.''

It's almost impossible for a starter in the big leagues to survive with just two pitches, as Rodriguez was attempting to do earlier this season. And it seems foolish to even try, given that Rodriguez's slider can be a plus-pitch for him at times.

3) If Mookie Betts has to miss some time, the Red Sox have options in right field.

Farrell said Betts has been dealing with soreness and stiffness in his right knee since after the All-Star break and has been undergoing treatment.

There's no evidence that this is serious, and he's considered day-to-day. But even if Betts needs some time off, or in a worse-case scenario, has to go on the DL, the Sox can do some things with their outfield.

Michael Martinez's best outfield position is right, as he demonstrated Friday night after taking over for Betts in the top of the fifth. Martinez ran a long way to grab a ball in foul territory for the final out in the sixth, then turned in a fine, tumbling catch in the eighth to take extra bases away from Adam Grossman.

Bryce Brentz, who's been in a platoon of sorts in left with Brock Holt, has played a lot of right field in the minors and has the arm strength to play there.

Finally, there's the matter of Andrew Benintendi. The Sox raised some eyebrows with the news that they were having Benintendi move over to left field at Double A Portland, perhaps in anticipation of playing the position for Boston at some point later this year.

Benintendi is a natural center fielder and even though he doesn't much experience in right, if you're athletic enough to play center, you can usually move to either corner spot.

Quotes, Notes and Stars from the Red Sox' 2-1 loss to the Twins

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Quotes, Notes and Stars from the Red Sox' 2-1 loss to the Twins

Quotes, Notes and Stars from the Boston Red Sox' 2-1 loss to the Minnesota Twins:

QUOTES:

"I think everybody in the ballpark just assumed this one had a chance to be ended right there.'' - John Farrell on David Ortiz's at-bat with no out and the bases loaded in the ninth inning.

"I feel like I can locate it better - outside, inside corner -- so it's given me more confidence.'' - Eduardo Rodriguez on the improvement with his slider.

"I always look forward to something (good) happening; it just doesn't work out all the time.'' - David Ortiz on his ninth-inning at-bat.

NOTES:

* The Red Sox saw a seven-game winning streak at Fenway -- their longest of the season -- snapped.

* Boston has homered in 13 consecutive games.

* The Red Sox bullpen has posted a 1.17 ERA since July 6.

* Mookie Betts became the first Red Sox hitter to hit 20 homers in a season before he turns 24 since Nomar Garciaparra.

* Dustin Pedroia has reached base in 30 straight games.

* The eight strikeouts posted by Eduardo Rodriguez were a season high and one shy of his career high.

* The loss was only the 15th this season in games in which the Red Sox score first.

* Rodriguez has not allowed an opposing baserunner to steal a base since July 5, 2015.

STARS:

1) Kyle Gibson

Don't let the 5.12 ERA he had coming in fool you. Gibson worked out a little jam in the first, then completely shut the Red Sox down the rest of the way, allowing just one hit and one walk after the first.

2) Brian Dozier

Dozier homered in the second to tie the game, singled in the fourth, walked in the sixth and singled again in the eighth -- reaching base in all four plate appearances.

3) Miguel Sano

Sano invited trouble when he dropped a routine pop-up to allow the Red Sox to put the potential tying run on base in the eighth. But he had three base hits on the night, including a run-scoring double that put the Twins ahead to stay in the sixth.

Sean McAdam can be followed on Twitter: @Sean_McAdam