Nieves eager to start new job as Red Sox' pitching coach


Nieves eager to start new job as Red Sox' pitching coach

BOSTON New Red Sox pitching coach Juan Nieves has talked with all his pitchers, including some who are out the country (such as left-hander Franklin Morales, who is playing in the Venezuelan League, and Alfredo Aceves, who is in Mexico). Hes even talked with some who are no longer with the team. Nieves, 47, had served as the White Sox bullpen for the past five seasons, learning under pitching coach Don Cooper. Prior to that, he had served as a pitching coach in the White Sox organization since 1999. It was a pleasure being with Don for so many years, Nieves said. Hes great, not just a mentor but a great friend. We were able to do everything together. We even travelled together in spring training, roomed together. It was everything. I will still talk to him and well still be friends. 
"But its exciting to meet a new group of guys and to get to know everyone's program. Its so important. One of the things that I enjoy the most is the fact that manager John Farrell already has a rapport with many of the Red Sox pitchers, built during his time as the team's pitching coach from 2007-10. So its almost a continuation. As a first-time pitching coach on a major league staff he just wants to say hello to his pitchers, get to know them, give them a chance to get to know him. Hes been watching video, learning their tendencies.  In January, hell visit with some. Hopefully as many as possible within the time frame, Nieves said. I know its hard for them because it would be a one-day situation in which I leave home in the morning, come back. I dont want to take a lot of time. I know this is a very precious time for them, too, which is the holidays, family, the tradition. Listen, well spend enough time together during the season. But its nice to be able to see as many guys as I can reach. It will be great. And also the catchers. Its very important to me just to get acquainted with them. One of the first trips he will make will be to Mississippi to see Daniel Bard. As we were talking on the phone he was going to the woods, he was hunting. So he gave me about 15 minutes of his time for that, Nieves said. But we were just talking on the phone and he said he was going to start throwing in January. Hell probably start throwing a little long toss now. But just to see him throw and play catch with him and see what the progress is what the plan is. Itll be great. Bard will be Nieves' major reclamation project after the right-handers disastrous 2012. I didnt see him early, Nieves said. I think by the time the White Sox played the Red Sox, he wasnt around. So I never really had  a chance to really see him, only through video. But we want to get back to the 2011 Bard and thats a guy that is in there. Another important goal for Nieves is establishing accountability for the starting pitchers. A strong starting five can only lead to success for the entire staff, he believes.  Its an aspect of the team that certainly needed improvement last season. You know something, you dont have to  have five No. 1 guys or five No. 5 guys in a rotation to be successful, he said. I think you expect your 1-2-3 to be consistent, hopefully your 4 and 5 eventually. Its nice when they eventually pick and choose during the course of the season they throw like a 1 and 2 maybe for a month-and-a-half, you never know,. Youve seen flashes of Gavin Floyd doing it before with the White Sox and he picked up maybe when Jake Peavey was not as good. So its important to have a couple guys going well at the same time. Also, like John said when we talked previously in our interview, you help your bullpen stay fresh and thats important. I think accountably for the starting five is very important. It was proven in Chicago and were going to stress that here. You see it with teams like Tampa bay. When  you have a strong five its nice to keep you bullpen nice and healthy, and not only healthy but fresh.

Royer's late goal rallies Red Bulls past Revolution, 2-1


Royer's late goal rallies Red Bulls past Revolution, 2-1

HARRISON, N.J. - Daniel Royer finished a nice sequence in the 74th minute, Luis Robles made a diving save in the closing minutes and the New York Red Bulls rallied to beat the New England Revolution 2-1 on Saturday night.

Felipe sent the ball left to Kemar Lawrence alongside the box and he put a cross to Royer on the back post for an easy finish on his fourth goal.

Robles, who only allowed Lee Nguyen's penalty kick in the ninth minute, preserved the win with his fourth save, diving to his left to block Diego Fagundez's shot from outside the box.

Bradley Wright-Phillips tied it for New York (6-6-2), which was winless in its last four matches, when he pounced on a loose ball and backheeled it into the net. New England goalkeeper Cody Cropper had pounced on a cross by Kemar Lawance, but Cropper could hold on and Wright-Phillips was there to clean up for his sixth goal.

Damien Perrinelle fouled Fagundez in the penalty area after a great pass from Kei Kamara, allowing Nguyen to step up for his sixth goal. New England (4-5-4) had won two straight and lost just one of its previous six. It is 0-5-2 on the road.

Brian Johnson: 'Awesome feeling' after five-hitter vs. Mariners


Brian Johnson: 'Awesome feeling' after five-hitter vs. Mariners

BOSTON - Brian Johnson had quite a turnaround in his second time on Fenway Park's mound.

Johnson pitched a five-hitter in his first big league appearance at Fenway, and the Boston Red Sox stretched their winning streak to a season-high six games with a 6-0 victory over the Seattle Mariners on Saturday.

The 26-year-old left-hander became the first Red Sox pitcher to throw a shutout in his first Fenway start since Pedro Martinez on April 11, 1998. In Johnson's first start in Fenway - his fourth as a professional - he sustained a season-ending facial fracture when he hit by a line drive while pitching for Class A Lowell in 2012.

"The last time I walked off the mound here was 2012 and I made two pitches," Johnson said. "Today I went nine innings. Today was pretty cool."

Johnson left Triple-A for a little over a month last season to get treatment for an anxiety issue.

"Obviously with some stuff that I've been gone through in my career, it's an awesome feeling" he said.

But despite the stellar outing, Johnson was optioned back to Triple-A after the game.

"That's the reality of the game," Red Sox manager John Farrell said. "We had a chance to congratulate him and yet option him back to Pawtucket, with David Price coming here Monday."

Brought up from the minors for the start, Johnson (2-0) gave up five singles, struck out eight and walked none. His only previous big league starts were at Houston on July 21, 2015, and at Toronto on April 18 this year.

Johnson was helped by a semi-leaping catch by center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr. at the wall in the sixth, Bradley's diving grab of Nelson Cruz's sinking liner in the ninth and Bradley's game-ending running catch of Kyle Seager's drive.

Xander Bogaerts' RBI single triggered a three-run first inning and Bradley hit a two-run homer in the sixth

Shut out for the second straight day, Seattle has lost seven of eight.

"Their guy threw the ball over the plate. He threw strikes," Mariners manager Scott Servais said. "I won't take anything away from what he did, but we're not swinging the bat very well."

Rob Whalen (0-1) gave up five runs and seven hits over 5 1/3 innings in his Mariners' debut, his first big league start since Aug. 23 for Atlanta. He is Seattle's 12th starting pitcher, the most in the major leagues.

Andrew Benintendi and Sandy Leon also had RBI singles in the first, when the Red Sox had two batters hit by pitches, two walks and two runners thrown out on the bases - Dustin Pedroia at third for the first out and Hanley Ramirez at the plate for the last.