Jason Varitek not a likely candidate to replace Gary Tuck
|01.30.13 at 3:06 pm ET|
There will come a time, and it may be in the near future, that former Red Sox catcher Jason Varitek can commence his big league coaching career with virtually his pick of jobs. But for now, even though the Red Sox have a newly created need for a bullpen coach and catching instructor on their big league staff with the sudden retirement of Gary Tuck, it does not appear that Varitek is being considered — or even wants to be considered — for a full-time return to uniform, according to a major league source.
Varitek retired because he wanted to spend time with his family, and while the 40-year-old embraced the opportunity to return to the Sox as a special assistant to GM Ben Cherington, that job seemingly represents the work-life balance that Varitek would like to maintain for now. There’s little question that a coaching future is available to him, but for the present, he’s likely to remain in his role.
That, in turn, means that the Sox must work to find a replacement for Tuck with less than two weeks before the official reporting date for pitchers and catchers. Given that compressed timetable, while the Sox had yet to contact candidates about interviews as of Wednesday afternoon, the team plans to select from an internal pool of candidates already within the organization.
Three stand out as fairly obvious:
— Chad Epperson spent the last two years as the Sox’ roving catching instructor, a capacity in which he’s worked with the likes of Ryan Lavarnway and Jarrod Saltalamacchia (as well as minor leaguers such as Dan Butler, Christian Vazquez and Blake Swihart) for years. Last year, when Tuck had to take a leave of absence for personal reasons, Epperson joined the big league staff as his fill-in. He also knows a number of the team’s homegrown pitchers, having coached or managed players like Dustin Pedroia, Jacoby Ellsbury, Daniel Bard, Ryan Kalish, Felix Doubront and Daniel Nava while they were coming up through the system.
— Rich Gedman has been coaching for the Sox for just two years, having spent 2011 as the hitting coach of the Lowell Spinners and 2012 as the hitting coach with High-A Salem. Still, he’s made a strong impression during that time as an influential voice who has been able to connect with pitchers as well as hitters. The 13-year veteran is currently slated to serve as the hitting coach in Double-A Portland in 2013. One consideration with Gedman: Whereas Epperson has longstanding relationships with the catchers (and pitchers) in the upper levels of the Sox’ system, Gedman has yet to work with most of the players (aside from those who were in this year’s one-week Rookie Development Program) who started last year in or above Double-A.
— Red Sox pitching coordinator Ralph Treuel has a resume that includes experience as a big league pitching coach and an interim bullpen coach with the Sox, and he’s worked with every homegrown Red Sox pitcher over a span of nearly two decades. However, because the Sox would like someone on the big league staff who can also serve as a catching instructor, Treuel — who was a pitcher in the minors and has worked solely as a pitching coach throughout his coaching career — is a less likely candidate than either Epperson or Gedman.
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