Valentine, Red Sox to assemble coaching staff

600556.jpg

Valentine, Red Sox to assemble coaching staff

Now that Bobby Valentine has agreed to become the Red Sox' next manager, there's plenty of work for him to do -- in short order.

The winter meetings begin Monday in Dallas and the free agent shopping season is underway. But even before Valentine and the front office gets to work on reshaping the roster and filling some obvious needs (starting pitching, closer, righthanded outfielder), they must first assemble a coaching staff.

That may not be as complicated as it seems, however.

Four coaches from Terry Francona's staff remain under contract with the Red Sox for 2012 and it's a safe bet that the club would like at least some of them to return since, either way, the Sox are responsible for their salaries.

In fact, one industry source suggested it was quite possible that all four of the coaches could be part of Valentine's staff, though some may have re-assigned roles.

Pitching coach Curt Young returned to the Oakland A's after one season with the Sox, and Ron Johnson, who's deal was up, was let go. Earlier this week, he was named manager of the Baltimore Orioles' Triple A affiliate in Norfolk, Va.

DeMarlo Hale, who had served as Francona's bench coach the last two seasons following the departure of Brad Mills, is weighing an offer to coach third base for the Baltimore Orioles, but would also be welcome back to the Sox.

Hale previously worked with Baltimore manager Buck Showalter when the two were in Texas and has worked before for new O's GM Dan Duquette, who was general manager of the Red Sox when Hale managed the team's Double A affiliate.

That leaves three holdovers: hitting instructor Dave Magadan; third base coach Tim Bogar and bullpen coachcatching instructor Gary Tuck.

Valentine would undoubtedly like to choose his own bench coach, but the Sox could easily have Hale return to third base coaching duties, with Bogar -- who has had some difficulty in the job -- shifting to first base, replacing Johnson.

Valentine could then hire someone with whom he's worked before as his bench coach.

Former Red Sox pitching coach Dave Wallace was one of Valentine's pitching coaches when Valentine managed the Mets from 1997-2002 and his name was mentioned as a possible candidate when Valentine went through his day-long interview last week.

Wallace is currently under contract with the Atlanta Braves as a minor league supervisor and lives in Massachusetts.

Rick Peterson, who has worked as the pitching coach for the Oakland A's, New York Mets (after Valentine's tenure) and Milwaukee Brewers, is available, but like Valentine, is a somewhat controversial figure. One industry source dismissed him as a poor fit for the Red Sox.

Ramirez, Leon homer, Red Sox beat Angels 9-4 on Papi's night

red_sox_hanley_ramirez_062317.jpg

Ramirez, Leon homer, Red Sox beat Angels 9-4 on Papi's night

BOSTON - Hanley Ramirez and Sandy Leon hit two-run homers and the Boston Red Sox beat the Los Angeles Angels 9-4 on Friday to cap a night in which David Ortiz's number became the latest retired at Fenway Park.

It was the 250th career home run for Ramirez, a good friend of Ortiz who was also born in the Dominican Republic. Leon finished with three hits and four RBIs.

The homers helped provide a nice cushion for Rick Porcello (4-9), who gave up four runs and struck out eight in 6 1/3 innings to earn the victory. It was the 13th straight start Porcello has gone at least six innings.

Alex Meyer (3-4) allowed five runs and five hits in 3 1/3 innings.

Los Angeles scored three runs in the seventh, but cooled off after Porcello left.

Boston got out to a 3-0 lead in the first inning, scoring on an RBI double by Xander Bogaerts and then getting two more runs off wild pitches by Meyer.

Ramirez gave Porcello a 5-1 lead in the fourth with his two-run shot to right field.

This could serve as a needed confidence boost for Porcello, who had been 0-4 with a 7.92 ERA in his previous five starts, allowing 47 hits and 27 earned runs.

He had command of his pitches early, holding the Angels scoreless until the fourth, when a catching error by Leon at home allowed Albert Pujols to cross the plate.

Ortiz: 'A super honor' to have number retired by Red Sox

Ortiz: 'A super honor' to have number retired by Red Sox

BOSTON —  The Red Sox have become well known for their ceremonies, for their pull-out-all-the-stops approach to pomp. The retirement of David Ortiz’s No. 34 on Friday evening was in one way, then, typical.

A red banner covered up Ortiz’s No. 34 in right field, on the facade of the grandstand, until it was dropped down as Ortiz, his family, Red Sox ownership and others who have been immortalized in Fenway lore looked on. Carl Yazstremski and Jim Rice, Wade Boggs and Pedro Martinez. 

The half-hour long tribute further guaranteed permanence to a baseball icon whose permanence in the city and the sport was never in doubt. But the moments that made Friday actually feel special, rather than expected, were stripped down and quick. 

Dustin Pedroia’s not one to belabor many points, never been the most effusive guy around. (He’d probably do well on a newspaper deadline.) The second baseman spoke right before Ortiz took to the podium behind the mound.

“We want to thank you for not the clutch hits, the 500 home runs, we want to thank you for how you made us feel and it’s love,” Pedroia said, with No. 34 painted into both on-deck circles and cut into the grass in center field. “And you’re not our teammate, you’re not our friend, you’re our family. … Thank you, we love you.”

Those words were enough for Ortiz to have tears in his eyes.

“Little guy made me cry,” Ortiz said, wiping his hands across his face. “I feel so grateful. I thank God every day for giving me the opportunity to have the career that I have. But I thank God even more for giving me the family and what I came from, who teach me how to try to do everything the right way. Nothing — not money — nothing is better than socializing with the people that are around you, get familiar with, show them love, every single day. It’s honor to get to see my number …. I remember hitting batting practice on this field, I always was trying to hit those numbers.”

Now that’s a poignant image for a left-handed slugger at Fenway Park.

He did it once, he said — hit the numbers. He wasn’t sure when. Somewhere in 2011-13, he estimated — but he said he hit Bobby Doerr’s No. 1.

“It was a good day to hit during batting practice,” Ortiz remembered afterward in a press conference. “But to be honest with you, I never thought I’d have a chance to hit the ball out there. It’s pretty far. My comment based on those numbers was, like, I started just getting behind the history of this organization. Those guys, those numbers have a lot of good baseball in them. It takes special people to do special things and at the end of the day have their number retired up there, so that happening to me today, it’s a super honor to be up there, hanging with those guys.”

The day was all about his number, ultimately, and his number took inspiration from the late Kirby Puckett. Ortiz’s major league career began with the Twins in 1997. Puckett passed away in 2006, but the Red Sox brought his children to Fenway Park. They did not speak at the podium or throw a ceremonial first pitch, but their presence likely meant more than, say, Jason Varitek’s or Tim Wakefield’s.

“Oh man, that was very emotional,” Ortiz said. “I’m not going to lie to you, like, when I saw them coming toward me, I thought about Kirby. A lot. That was my man, you know. It was super nice to see his kids. Because I remember, when they were little guys, little kids. Once I got to join the Minnesota Twins, Kirby was already working in the front office. So they were, they used to come in and out. I used to get to see them. But their dad was a very special person for me and that’s why you saw me carry the No. 34 when I got here. It was very special to get to see them, to get kind of connected with Kirby somehow someway.”

Ortiz’s place in the row of 11 retired numbers comes in between Boggs’ No. 26 and Jackie Robinson’s No. 42.