Niemann ready to 'go forward' with pitching staff

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Niemann ready to 'go forward' with pitching staff

BOSTON -- A somber Randy Niemann hinted at changes to come as he takes over as Red Sox pitching coach, the fourth person to fill that role since the end of the 2010 season.

"I met with all the (pitchers)," said Niemann, who was promoted after the team fired Bob McClure Monday. "I told them that we're going to go forward, we're going to work hard and we're going to do some things a little different."

Asked to specify what changes he would make, Niemann declined to get into specifics, though he did hint he would take a tighter rein when it comes to running the staff.

"I'm not going to get into that right now," he said. "But going forward, we're going to be OK. I know this: the guys are going to be focused on what they're doing and they're going to be focused on the task at hand on a daily basis. I'm going to make sure of that.

"We're going to try to do things a little more on schedule and try to make things a little easier for those guys to understand to be able to focus and do what they're capable of doing."

Niemann, who had served as the team's assistant pitching coach until Monday, said "sometimes you can tweak things, do them a little differently and hopefully that works for the guys. But I know they're going to be focused and ready to go."

Some Red Sox starters, including Josh Beckett, don't typically throw between-start bullpen sessions, preferring to throw on flat ground. But Niemann hinted that might be under review.

"I think some of it's (up to the) individual," said Niemann. "Some of it can be tweaked. I've already discussed that with a couple of the guys today. We're probably going to keep somewhat the same, with a little tweak. The whole idea is when they go out on their fifth day, that they're the best prepared they can be. Whatever it's going to take to do that, we're going to address it and do it."

Reminded that the starting rotation's ERA of 4.83 is one of the worst in the baseball, Niemann said the staff is capable of improvement.

"I think we're better than that," he said. "I think the guys feel like we're better than that and we're going to work hard in the last month and a half to get it better."

Niemann acknowledged that the last 24 hours were difficult for him, given his friendship with McClure.

"It's been a very tough day," said Niemann. "It's a tough time. Someone who was a good friend of ours, I had to over for."

Though McClure and manager Bobby Valentine had a strained relationship, Niemann and McClure actually got along fine and worked well together and Niemann was shaken by McClure's firing.

"I was disappointed for Mac," he said upon hearing the news. "He's a good friend. I tried to help him as much as I possibly could. He was in charge and anything I had to say, I said to him and let him convey it. There can only be one voice and he was the voice."

The fact that Niemann has been with the team since spring training and filled in while McClure took a personal leave for family reasons will help ease the transition.

"I think it makes it easier than if you totally walked into a new, cold situation," he said.

Report: Red Sox DH target Beltran agrees to 1-year deal with Astros

Report: Red Sox DH target Beltran agrees to 1-year deal with Astros

Carlos Beltran, the 39-year-old switch hitter who was a potential target of the Red Sox as a DH, agreed to a free-agent deal with the Houston Astros, ESPN's Buster Olney reported.

FOXSports.com's Ken Rosenthal reports that it's a one-year, $16 million deal. 

Beltran played for the Astros in 2004. He was dealt from the New York Yankees to the Texas Rangers at the July 31 trading deadline last season. He totaled 35 homers, 101 RBI and hit .295 in 2016. 

The Red Sox, looking to fill the void left by David Ortiz's retirement, will be looking for a DH at the Winter Meetings that begin next week. One possibility is the return of Mike Napoli, who played for the A.L. champion Cleveland Indians last season.

More on the Winter Meetings here from CSN Red Sox Insider Sean McAdam.