Sox don't renew contract of coach Ron Johnson

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Sox don't renew contract of coach Ron Johnson

By Maureen Mullen
CSNNE.com Follow @maureenamullen

Ron Johnson, the Red Sox' first-base coach for the last two years, says he's been let go by the team.

Johnson, whose contract was up at the end of the 2011 season, just completed his 12th season in the Red Sox organization. Prior to being appointed to the big-league coaching staff in 2010, he managed Triple-A Pawtucket from 2005-09. He joined the organization in 2000, managing Single-A Sarasota. Johnson also managed Double-A Trenton in 2002 and Portland in 2003-04.

Obviously, Im disappointed, Johnson said. I always considered myself a Red Sox for life. I have the utmost love for a lot of people there. But thats baseball and things happen, and its time to start a new chapter.

"But I will never forget what they did for me. I told them, You guys are like family to me. I understand what you need to do. And no matter what uniform Im wearing Ill always be kind of rooting for them because theres a lot of special people over there. And for me, more than probably most, because of the personal things I got involved with when my daughter go hurt.

Johnson left the team at the beginning of August in 2010, after his youngest child, Bridget, just a few days shy of her 11th birthday, lost her leg in a car accident. He missed the last two months of the season.

Shes doing real good. Shes moving around good, he said.

Johnson, a 24th-round pick of the Royals in 1978, began coaching in the Kansas City organization in 1986. Between the Red Sox and Royals, he compiled a minor league managing record of 1,261-1,262 from 1992-2009.

He intends to stay in the game.

Ive had a couple of years at the big leagues with the Red Sox. I won 1,000 games in the minor leagues. Im very proud of the players we were able to develop who are up there playing right now for the club, he said. Hopefully, that stuff will all play in when it comes down to time to get a job.

Johnson wouldn't comment on how the end of the Red Sox season played out.

Maureen Mullen is on Twitter at http:twitter.commaureenamullen

Report: Third base among 'major upgrades' Red Sox seek by trade deadline

Report: Third base among 'major upgrades' Red Sox seek by trade deadline

Despite still being owed more than $42 million after this year, Pablo Sandoval's days with the Red Sox appear numbered. So, it's no surprise that landing a third baseman at the trade deadline is a priority.

That's among the "major upgrades" the Sox are seeking by the July 31 deadline, MLB.com columnist Mark Feinsand reports.

With Sandoval now on his second disabled list stint of the season - this time with an ear infection - after turning into what Feinsand calls "a horror tale for the Red Sox," and with fill-ins Josh Rutledge and Deven Marrero holding down third, it's apparent that the position is a glaring need.

"Sandoval is basically a non-entity at this point," a source told Feinsand. "They need to make a move there."

Feinsand mentions the usual suspects - Mike Moustakas of the Royals and Todd Frazier of the White Sox - as possibilities. Also, he wonders if former MVP Josh Donaldson could be pried away from the Blue Jays (if "Dave Dombrowski knocks their socks off") with an offer and if Toronto is still sputtering at the deadline?

Those other upgrades? "Boston is also looking for pitching, both in the rotation and bullpen," Feinsand writes. Again, no surprise there.

Drellich: Red Sox' talent drowning out lack of identity

Drellich: Red Sox' talent drowning out lack of identity

A look under the hood is not encouraging. A look at the performance is.

The sideshows for the Red Sox have been numerous. What the team’s success to this point has reinforced is how much talent and performance can outweigh everything else. Hitting and pitching can drown out a word that rhymes with pitching — as long as the wins keep coming.

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At 40-32, the Sox have the seventh-best win percentage (.556) in the majors. What they lack, by their own admission, is an intangible. Manager John Farrell told reporters Wednesday in Kansas City his club was still searching for its identity.

“A team needs to forge their own identity every year,” Farrell said. “That’s going to be dependent upon the changes on your roster, the personalities that exist, and certainly the style of game that you play. So, with [David Ortiz’s] departure, his retirement, yeah, that was going to happen naturally with him not being here. And I think, honestly, we’re still kind of forming it.”

To this observer, the vibe in the Red Sox clubhouse is not the merriest. 

Perhaps, in the mess hall, the players are a unified group of 25 (or so), living for one another with every pitch. What the media sees is only a small slice of the day. 

But it does not feel like Farrell has bred an easygoing, cohesive environment.

Farrell and big boss Dave Dombrowski appeared unaligned in their view of Pablo Sandoval’s place on the roster, at least until Sandoval landed on the disabled list. 

Hanley Ramirez and first base may go together like Craig Kimbrel and the eighth inning. Which is to say, selfless enthusiasm for the ultimate goal of winning does not appear constant with either.

Dustin Pedroia looked like the spokesperson of a fractured group when he told Manny Machado, in front of all the cameras, “It’s not me, it’s them,” as the Orioles and Red Sox carried forth a prolonged drama of drillings. 

Yet, when you note the Sox are just a half-game behind the Yankees for the American League East lead; when you consider the Sox have won 19 of their past 30 games, you need to make sure everything is kept in proportion.

How much are the Sox really hurt by a lack of identity? By any other issue off the field?

Undoubtedly, the Sox would be better positioned if there were no sideshows. But it’s hard to say they’d have ‘X’ more wins.

The Sox would have had a better chance of winning Wednesday’s game if Kimbrel pitched at any point in the eighth inning, that’s for sure. 

Kimbrel is available for one inning at this point, the ninth, Farrell has said.

A determination to keep Kimbrel out of the eighth because that’s not what a closer traditionally does seems like a stance bent on keeping Kimbrel happy rather than doing what is best for the team. The achievement of a save has been prioritized over the achievement of a team win, a state of affairs that exists elsewhere, but is nonetheless far from ideal — a state of affairs that does not reflect an identity of all for one and one for all.

Maybe the Sox will find that identity uniformly. Maybe they’re so good, they can win the division without it.