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."