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.

Eduardo Rodriguez slated to start in Double-A Thursday; could return early July

Eduardo Rodriguez slated to start in Double-A Thursday; could return early July

BOSTON — Helped by a custom knee brace, starter Eduardo Rodriguez could make an early July return to the Red Sox if all goes right from here.

The lefty threw a sim game Saturday at Fenway Park, his first time facing hitters since a right knee subluxation at the start of June. He’s to stay on a five-day schedule and is slated to start for Double-A Portland on Thursday if he comes out of Saturday feeling well.

Rodriguez threw 68 pitches Saturday, manager John Farrell said, and is to throw 75-80 for Portland.

"The key for me is seeing the height of the leg kick,” Farrell said. “The brace that he's wearing now gives him such a greater feeling of stability in the knee that he can be more assertive with the lower half, so the delivery is much more Eddie-like than when he had to adjust in that game in Baltimore.”

One rehab start would be ideal, Farrell said. Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski said on Friday that Doug Fister could theoretically move to the bullpen upon Rodriguez's return. That’s still a few steps away, though. 

One, Rodriguez needs to get all the way back. Two, Fister needs to perform well enough that the Sox feel he’s worth holding on to. Fister’s first start is to come Sunday.

Rodriguez's progress has been encouraging to the Sox since he began to rehab. Without a setback, he'd return before the All-Star break, setting the team up well for the second half.

Drellich: Why David Ortiz should hang around the Red Sox more often

Drellich: Why David Ortiz should hang around the Red Sox more often

BOSTON — David Ortiz should stop by Fenway Park more often. 

There may be no tangible gain for his old teammates. At this point, it defies logic to think there’d be tangible harm.

On Thursday evening before Ortiz’s charity roast at House of Blues, Red Sox president Sam Kennedy recalled how it was a no-brainer to plan Friday’s jersey retirement so soon after Ortiz’s exit from the game. 

Kennedy said he was the one who actually broached the question with team management last year. Basically, everyone looked at him sideways because of the implication any other time but right away made sense.

“No person has meant more to the [John] Henry-[Larry] Lucchino-[Tom] Werner era than David Ortiz,” Kennedy said.

Let’s accept the premise wholly: that because Ortiz is so special, the timing for his ceremony deserved to be just as unique. The design of the day was centered on how much Ortiz means to people: fans, the team.

Why, then, has Ortiz been staying away from the ballclub? Dustin Pedroia has been a leader for years. Ortiz is a positive influence. The idea that having Big Papi swing by Fenway sometimes would actively stunt the development of the Red Sox’ identity is a stretch. 

There’s been a grace period of nearly three months. 

“Well I, I could never entirely walk away. I have been around,” Ortiz said Friday night in a press conference. “I have been watching the games and I have been in touch with my teammates. I have been in touch with the organization. You know, I just don’t like to, you know, be in the way of anything. 

“I know that, me retiring, it was going to have a big impact on what we do around here. So I don’t — I tell myself, give everybody their space and I don’t want to, now that I’m not playing, I don’t want to be a distraction. And I know that coming to the field sometimes, it can cause a distraction or something, so. I have been able to keep my distance so I’m not in nobody’s way. But I stay in touch with everybody and I have been pretty busy also, doing a lot of things. 

“But me and the organization, we’ve been talking for a while about me working with the organization. Probably Sam Kennedy can give you guys more info about it. But it’s going to happen, and at some point I’m going to be able to help out somewhere, somehow some way.”

It’d be ridiculous to say Ortiz is the reason Rick Porcello pitched well and Hanley Ramirez homered Friday. It’d be a flat-out lie.

But Ortiz’s presence shouldn’t somehow be a distraction, if leadership and the mentality in the Red Sox clubhouse is as the Red Sox describe it.

"Pedey has been a leader of this team for the entire time he's been here,” manager John Farrell said Friday. “To me, the clubhouse has been a place where guys have felt comfortable. They've been able to come in and be themselves. They have rallied around one another when times have called for that. When you remove an individual, there are going to be other people who step up. I firmly believe that has taken place.”

If that’s the case, then how does what Farrell said in the same pregame press conference yesterday make sense?

“[Ortiz] has a keen awareness that he could potentially keep others from flourishing with the potential thought and the question always being there,” Farrell said. “Well, he is around, is he ever coming back? All the things that I think have been reported on to a certain extent. I think David's keen awareness of himself and how a team works, I wouldn't be surprised if that is at the root of his decision to keep the space that he's done.”

But that decision seems flawed. No one in that room should be hurt or confused by Ortiz coming by occasionally — absolutely not now that the jersey’s hanging. (A little speculation he could un-retire was throwing the Sox off their game? Really?) 

If anything, the team should find comfort in seeing such an important, charismatic man with ties to the group.

Ortiz is special. The team has adapted well without him. If those are facts, the need for Ortiz to stay away doesn’t make sense.