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.

Red Sox place Pomeranz on DL, but he may not miss a start

Red Sox place Pomeranz on DL, but he may not miss a start

Roster flexibility, something of substance, or a combination of both?

The Red Sox on Thursday placed Drew Pomeranz on the brand new 10-day disabled list because of a left forearm flexor strain.

"It's become more and more clear he's not ready to begin the season," John Farrell told reporters, including The Providence Journal's Tim Britton, on Thursday morning.

The Sox don’t need a fifth starter, Pomeranz’s potential spot, until April 9. He can be activated before then. So, in effect, the trip to the DL frees up an extra roster spot.

Farrell said the team hopes Pomeranz will be able to make his scheduled start but "is certainly not guaranteeing it."

The situation could prove an interesting look at how MLB handles its new 10-day disabled list. If Pomeranz continues on his previously planned schedule, the Red Sox could be seen as simply be using the 10-day DL to their advantage. But Farrell spoke earlier this spring about how he expected MLB to highly scrutinize trips to the DL.

Pomeranz’s forearm is known not to be in the best of shape, considering he went for a stem-cell injection this offseason.

Porcello 'feels as good as I've felt all spring' in Red Sox' 5-3 loss

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Porcello 'feels as good as I've felt all spring' in Red Sox' 5-3 loss

Rick Porcello and Drew Pomeranz combined to allow all five of the Red Sox' runs in Boston's 5-3 loss to the Minnesota Twins.

Porcello finished his start by fanning four, allowing four hits and earning two runs over four innings. Pomeranz followed in the next four innings with four strikeouts, five hits allowed and three earned runs. Pomeranz allowed ByungHo Park's eighth-inning, two-run homer, which ended up being the game-winner.

Porcello, however, was optimistic after the loss.

"The buildup was good," Porcello told reporters, via RedSox.com. "Today I felt as good as I've felt all spring. At this point, I'm ready to go. I'm looking forward to the start of the season."

While the Sox offense was able to get three runs off Ervin Santana in his 4 2/3 innings, they struggled against the Twins' next five pitchers. Xander Bogaerts (2 of 3) and Pablo Sandoval (1 of 3) managed homers. Hanley (3 of 3) Ramirez had a double, and Dustin Pedroia (2 of 3) had two singles.

Kyle Kendrick will start Thursday in the Sox' final Spring Training series against the Washington Nationals. First pitch is at 1:05 p.m. ET.