Cherington, Farrell: Filling coaching staff is first priority

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Cherington, Farrell: Filling coaching staff is first priority

BOSTON While former Pawtucket manager Torey Lovullo is expected to be named bench coach for new Red Sox manager John Farrell, the status of the Sox 2012 coaches remains undetermined.

Hitting coach Dave Magadan has already departed to take the same position with the Rangers.

We gave all the coaches permission to look around as soon as the season was over, general manager Ben Cherington said. Now that Johns here, well go about the process of filling out the staff and that will include consideration of the current coaches. But we dont have anything to report on that.

All the coaching positions are considered open, Cherington said.

Were looking at them as open, he said. That doesnt mean were closing the door to someone who was here before, but wanted to give John the latitude to have a fresh canvas to work off of. He has been talking to, and will talk to, some of the people who were on the staff this year. Well see where it ends up, but most importantly, hes got to put the staff together that he believes fits the criteria that he talked about.

Getting a staff together is Farrells immediate priority.

They will have different sets of experiences but the fact that they will have the players best interests in their minds and may be their guide will be a criteria that Ill look to include in every guy that's added to the staff, Farrell said. I think it's critical that we work as a unit, that there's the ability to challenge one another and express opinions in that coaches room, in our offices downstairs, but when we go out we will be on the same page and working in one voice.

I wouldnt say were really advanced in the process. Id say weve got a number of names that are candidates for the roles that exist. Still determining coaches that were here last year and will they continue to go forward. So were probably in the third or fourth inning.

While the Sox are in need of continuity at their helm, perhaps no position needs it more than the pitching coach. Whoever Farrell chooses will be the teams fifth in four seasons. And with Farrell himself a former pitching coach, that person needs to know he will have a certain amount of autonomy, Farrell said.

I think with any position stabilitys critical, Farrell said. I think its important to know, or for the pitching coach to know coming in that this isnt going to be a situation, because so much has been brought out with the return here that its not going to be micromanaged. Certainly theres going to be involvement but that person needs the freedom to do his job and do it to the best of his ability. Thats why to me its important to get the most qualified pitching coach available and bring him in here.

Before Farrell was announced as the new Sox manager on Sunday, Cherington and his staff met with Dodgers third-base coach Tim Wallach, Padres special assistant Brad Ausmus, Yankees bench coach Tony Pena, and Orioles third-base coach and former Sox bench coach DeMarlo Hale. Cherington said he did not explore with any of those candidates the possibility of joining the organization in any other capacity.

Havent had that conversation, Cherington said. I talked to the four other candidates on Saturday, expressed my appreciation for allowing us to get to know them. Those are tough phone calls because theyre all good people and they wanted to express an interest in the job and wanted to see through, go through the process. And all four of them are quality people and capable of being a manager someday.

MLB players' union agrees to pitchless intentional walks

MLB players' union agrees to pitchless intentional walks

NEW YORK - There won't be any wild pitches on intentional walks this season.

The players' association has agreed to Major League Baseball's proposal to have intentional walks without pitches this year.

"It doesn't seem like that big of a deal. I know they're trying to cut out some of the fat. I'm OK with that," Cleveland manager Terry Francona said.

While the union has resisted many of MLB's proposed innovations, such as raising the bottom of the strike zone, installing pitch clocks and limiting trips to the mound, players are willing to accept the intentional walk change.

"As part of a broader discussion with other moving pieces, the answer is yes," union head Tony Clark wrote Wednesday in an email to The Associated Press. "There are details, as part of that discussion, that are still being worked through, however."

The union's decision was first reported by ESPN .

"I'm OK with it. You signal. I don't think that's a big deal," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "For the most part, it's not changing the strategy, it's just kind of speeding things up. I'm good with it."

There were 932 intentional walks last year, including 600 in the National League, where batters are walked to bring the pitcher's slot to the plate.

"You don't want to get your pitcher out of a rhythm, and when you do the intentional walk, I think you can take a pitcher out of his rhythm," Girardi said. "I've often wondered why you don't bring in your shortstop and the pitcher stand at short. Let the shortstop walk him. They're used to playing catch more like that than a pitcher is."

Agreement with the union is required for playing rules changes unless MLB gives one year advance notice, in which case it can unilaterally make alterations. Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred expressed hope Tuesday that ongoing talks would lead to an agreement on other changes but also said clubs would reserve the right to act unilaterally, consistent with the rule-change provision of the sport's labor contract.

Some changes with video review can be made unilaterally, such as shortening the time to make a challenge.

"I know they were thinking about putting in a 30-second (limit) for managers to make a decision," Francona said. "I actually wish they would. I think it would hustle it up and if we can't tell in 30 seconds, maybe we shouldn't be doing it anyway."

Bean: There's no way to spin a potential Ortiz return as a bad idea

Bean: There's no way to spin a potential Ortiz return as a bad idea

As if there weren’t enough storylines with the 2017 Red Sox, there figures to be the lingering possibility that, at any point, one of the franchise’s greatest hitters will return to make a push for his fourth World Series title.

As Pedro Martinez keeps saying, he won’t believe David Ortiz is retired until season’s end.

And with that possibility comes a good ol’ fashioned sports debate: You’re maybe the biggest lunatic in the whole wide world if you’re hoping for the latter.

There are exactly two potential downsides to Ortiz coming back. One is that the team would be worse defensively if it puts Hanley Ramirez in the field, a tradeoff that seemingly anyone would take if it meant adding Ortiz’ offense to the middle of the order. The other is that we would probably have to see Kenan Thompson’s Ortiz impression again . . . which, come to think of it, would be the worst. Actually, I might kill myself if that happens.  

All the other drawbacks are varying degrees of noise. It basically boils down to the “what if he isn’t good?” fear. Which may be valid, but it shouldn’t be reason enough to not want him to attempt a comeback.

Ortiz is coming off a 38-homer, 127-RBI 2016 in which he hit .315 with a league-best 1.021 OPS. It's probably the best final season of any hitter over the last 50 years.

We also know Ortiz is 41 and dealt with ankle and heel injuries so vast in recent years that he was “playing on stumps,” according to Red Sox coordinator of sports medicine services Dan Dyrek. There is the possibility that he was almost literally on his last legs in 2016 and that he doesn’t have another great season in him.

Unless Ortiz is medically incapable and/or not interested in returning, what would the harm be in rolling the dice? Is it a money thing? It really depends on just how intent the Sox are on staying under the luxury-tax threshold, but it’s hard to imagine that holding them up given that they’ve bobbed over and under the line throughout the years.

The one unacceptable argument is the legacy stuff, which expresses concern that Ortiz would tarnish his overall body of work if he came back for one last season and was relatively ineffective.  

If you think that five years after Ortiz is done playing, a single person will say, “Yeah, he’s a Hall of Famer; it’s just a shame he came back that for one last season,” you’re absolutely crazy. The fact that one could dwell that much on a legacy shows how much they romanticize the player, meaning that in however many years it's the 40-homer seasons, and not the potentially underwhelming few months in 2017, that will stand the test of time.

But he’ll have thrown away having one of the best final seasons ever for a hitter.

Oh man. That’s a life-ruiner right there. A 10-time All-Star and three-time World Series champion totally becomes just another guy if you take that away.

Plus, the fact that he’s a DH limits how bad it could really be. You won’t get the sight of an over-the-hill Willie Mays misplaying fly balls in the 1973 World Series after hitting .211 in the regular season. Ortiz will either be able to hit or he won’t, and if it’s the latter they’ll chalk it up to age and injuries and sit him down. Any potential decision to put him on the field in a World Series would likely mean his bat was worth it enough to get them to that point.

The Red Sox, on paper at least, have a real shot at another title. Teams in such a position should always go for broke. Ortiz has absolutely nothing left to prove, but if he thinks he has anything left to give, nobody but the fans who dropped 30-something bucks on T-shirts commemorating his retirement should have a problem with that.