Ochoa surprise addition as Sox complete coaching staff

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Ochoa surprise addition as Sox complete coaching staff

BOSTON -- The Red Sox completed the rest of their coaching staff Friday afternoon, with one surprising name.

Alex Ochoa, an ex-big league outfielder who has spent the last three years as a coach and assistant in the Sox' system (including a season, 2009, as a major-league coaching staff assistant), was named first-base coach, joining a list of newcomers that includes Jerry Royster (third-base coach) and Bob McClure (pitching coach). Both Royster and McClure were rumored to be headed to those positions.

In addition, Tim Bogar -- as reported two days ago by CSNNE.com's Sean McAdam -- moves from third-base coach to bench coach. Returning to their previous jobs are hitting coach Dave Magadan and bullpen coach Gary Tuck, giving manager Bobby Valentine a mix of new coaches and returnees.

"When you're naming a staff I really think the staff is a group of people, like a lineup is a group of people that has to learn to work together and have to compliment each other," Valentine said. "I think it was really important to try to blend the other three selected coaches with the existing ones so that, a) all of the disciplines were covered so we know that the players will be taught specific skills by very talented people, but alsotry to get a mix of personalities that wont conflict but will stimulate each other and hopefully stimulate the team. I think we did that and Im excited about the group that was put together. Im really excited about Bob heading up the pitching staff."

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 theorganizationand 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."

Bogar, who turned 45 in October is entering his fourth season with the Sox. He was the third-base coach the last two seasons and the teams quality assurance coach before that. Bogar has also been a coach with the Rays and managed in the farm systems of the Indians and Astros. He was an eighth-round pick of the Mets in 1987, but, with Valentine managing the Mets, was traded in spring training of 1999 to the Astros.

"Actually I talked to Tim a few times about the composition of the staff and,of course, I wanted to understand where he was in his baseball career and what his vision for his future was," Valentine said. "Aand when I mentioned the possibility of bringing in some other bench coaches and possibly giving a 40-something guy the opportunity to sit with me and work with me and even possibly someday further his career as a managerial candidate and a manger, Tim impressed upon me his desire to be just that guy. And not only was there a desire that was expressed, but he convinced me that he was ready, able and willing to do as good job as anybody out there. So I was really confident when after talking with tim that the right thing for him and for the organization was to get him in the dugout and working at my side."

Royster, 59, has been involved in professional baseball for over 40 years. He most recently managed the Lotte Giants of the Korea Baseball Organization from 2008-10, becoming the leagues first foreign manager. He led the Giants to the playoffs in each of his three seasons at the helm. Royster previously served on major league coaching staffs as third base coach for the Rockies in their inaugural 1993 campaign and as the Brewers bench coach from 2000 until taking over as interim manager from April 18, 2002 through the end of that season.

"I wanted a fellow with real experience checked beside his name," Valentine said. "And when I looked around at those who had at least 15 years of playing experience and who had major league coaching experience and major league managing experience, the list is relatively thin. But the group that I was considering I also wanted enthusiasm and I wanted a bit of a comfort level and Jerry, when you get a guy who has so much experience, the comfort level has to come from an understanding that you think of the game and see the game in a similar manner. And Jerrys pedigree started with the Dodgers and came up as an infielder as I did, a little after me but taught by all the same people. He was managing in the major leagues at the same time that I was. Then he had three years of fabulous experience of being the only and the first foreign manager to manage in Korea in the professional league in Korea. Hardly anybody knows on this side of the pond what that experience was but I can tell you that it was an extraordinary experience to be the only and first foreign manager in a country is something that I have done before, and to understand the success that he had in a very difficult market where there are 40,000 passionate fans at every game. And he existed there for longer than anybody thought he would. They gave him a month and he lasted three years, I think gave him the kind of a blueprint that I was looking for for someone to coach third at our ballpark and around the league. So Jerry fit the bill."

Ochoa, 39, was the hitting coach for Bostons High-A Salem affiliate last season and his batters led the Carolina League in on-base percentage (.328), and finished third in average (.254) and slugging (.387). He began his professional coaching career in 2009 as Bostons staff assistant and served as a special assistant in the Red Sox Baseball Operations department in 2010. Ochoa is a veteran of eight Major League seasons with the Mets (1995-97), Twins (1998), Brewers (1999, 2002), Reds (2000-01), Rockies (2001) and Angels (2002). An outfielder, he hit .279 (597-for-2,143) with 131 doubles, 19 triples, 46 home runs, 261 RBI, 320 runs, 203 walks and 56 stolen bases over 807 career games. Ochoa played under Valentine for parts of two seasons with the Mets in 1996-97.

Ochoa, 39, was the hitting coach for Bostons High-A Salem affiliate last season and his batters led the Carolina League in on-base percentage (.328), and finished third in average (.254) and slugging (.387). He began his professional coaching career in 2009 as Bostons staff assistant and served as a special assistant in the Red Sox Baseball Operations department in 2010.

Ochoa is a veteran of eight major-league seasons with the Mets (1995-97), Twins (1998), Brewers (1999, 2002), Reds (2000-01), Rockies (2001) and Angels (2002). An outfielder, he hit .279 (597-for-2,143) with 131 doubles, 19 triples, 46 home runs, 261 RBI, 320 runs, 203 walks and 56 stolen bases over 807 career games. Ochoa played under Valentine for parts of two seasons with the Mets in 1996-97.

One coaching position that remains open is that of staff assistant. Over the last three years Ochoa and Rob Leary have filled that role. Leary, whose contract was not renewed after the 2011 season, is now the field coordinator for the Indians. The vacancy is still under consideration and "likely" will be filled, general manager Ben Cherington said.

MLB may make rule changes for '18 season

MLB may make rule changes for '18 season

PHOENIX - Major League Baseball intends to push forward with the process that could lead to possible rule changes involving the strike zone, installation of pitch clocks and limits on trips to the pitcher's mound. While baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred expressed hope the ongoing process would lead to an agreement, he said clubs would reserve the right to act unilaterally, consistent with the rule-change provision of the sport's labor contract.

Union head Tony Clark said last weekend he did not foresee players agreeing to proposed changes for 2017. Under baseball's collective bargaining agreement, management can alter playing rules only with agreement from the union - unless it gives one year notice. With the one year of notice, management can make changes on its own.

"Unfortunately it now appears that there really won't be any meaningful change for the 2017 season due to a lack of cooperation from the MLBPA," Manfred said Tuesday during a news conference. "I've tried to be clear that our game is fundamentally sound, that it does not need to be fixed as some people have suggested, and I think last season was the kind of demonstration of the potential of our league to captivate the nation and of the game's unique place in American culture."

Yet, he also added: "I believe it's a mistake to stick our head in the sand and ignore the fact that our game has changed and continues to change."

Manfred said while he prefers an agreement, "I'm also not willing to walk away." He said he will send a letter to the union in the coming days and plans to continue dialogue with Clark and others in hopes of reaching agreement.

Clark met with Cactus League teams last week, five at a time over Thursday, Friday and Saturday, before departing Monday for Florida to visit each Grapefruit League club - and proposed rules changes were a topic.

"I have great respect for the labor relations process, and I have a pretty good track record for getting things done with the MLBPA," Manfred said. "I have to admit, however, that I am disappointed that we could not even get the MLBPA to agree to modest rule changes like limits on trips to the mound that have little effect on the competitive character of the game."

Clark saw talks differently.

"Unless your definition of `cooperation' is blanket approval, I don't agree that we've failed to cooperate with the commissioner's office on these issues," he wrote in an email to The Associated Press. "Two years ago we negotiated pace of play protocols that had an immediate and positive impact. Last year we took a step backward in some ways, and this offseason we've been in regular contact with MLB and with our members to get a better handle on why that happened. I would be surprised if those discussions with MLB don't continue, notwithstanding today's comments about implementation. As I've said, fundamental changes to the game are going to be an uphill battle, but the lines of communication should remain open."

Clark added "my understanding is that MLB wants to continue with the replay changes (2-minute limit) and the no-pitch intentional walks and the pace of game warning/fine adjustments."

Manfred said he didn't want to share specifics of his priorities for alterations.

"There's a variety of changes that can be undertaken," Manfred said. "I'm committed to the idea that we have a set of proposals out there and we continue to discuss those proposals in private."

MLB has studied whether to restore the lower edge of the strike zone from just beneath the kneecap to its pre-1996 level - at the top of the kneecap. Management would like to install 20-second pitch clocks in an attempt to speed the pace of play - they have been used at Triple-A and Double-A for the past two seasons.

Players also have been against limiting mound meetings. The least controversial change appears to be allowing a team to call for an intentional walk without the pitcher having to throw pitches. In addition, MLB likely can alter some video review rules without the union's agreement- such as shortening the time a manager has to call for a review.

"Most of this stuff that they were talking about I don't think it would have been a major adjustment for us," Royals manager Ned Yost said.

Manfred said starting runners on second base in extra innings sounds unlikely to be implemented in the majors. The change will be experimented with during the World Baseball Classic and perhaps at some short-season Class A leagues. Manfred said it was a special-purpose rule "beneficial in developmental leagues."

Manfred also said Tuesday that a renovated Wrigley Field would be a great choice to host an All-Star Game and Las Vegas could be a "viable market for us."

"I don't think that the presence of legalized gambling in Las Vegas should necessarily disqualify that market as a potential major league city," Manfred said.

Massarotti: '0% chance Ortiz comes out of retirement'

Massarotti: '0% chance Ortiz comes out of retirement'

Tony Massarotti in the Cumberland Farms lounge believes there is 0% chance David Ortiz comes out of retirement.