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Hot Stove: Daisuke Matsuzaka interested in pitching for Padres; Bob McClure offered job 11.25.12 at 7:59 am ET
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According to the San Diego Union-Tribune, Daisuke Matsuzaka has an interest in pitching in San Diego with the Padres. The 32-year-old Matsuzaka, who is a free agent, is coming off a 2012 season with the Red Sox in which he returned from Tommy John surgery to a 1-7 mark with an 8.28 ERA in 11 starts.

The report states that Matsuzaka has told members of the Japanese media that he would welcome the opportunity to restart his career in the pitcher-friendly Petco Park, where he performed during the first World Baseball Classic. Evidently, the righty pitcher said money wouldn’t hold up a deal.

Matsuzaka’s 8.28 ERA in 2012 was the highest ever by a Red Sox pitcher who made at least 10 starts. On the final day of the season, he expressed disappointment in the overall shape of his six year career in Boston, during which he was paid $52 million (after the Sox secured the rights to negotiate with him for a $51.11 million posting fee in November 2006).

“I didn’t expect the six years to end the way it did end. It was really hard on me mentally for a while now,” Matsuzaka said following the last start of the year. “But there were some great memories ‘€“’€“ the first year winning the World Series was great. But I wasn’t able to perform to my expectations after the first two years, so I’m really disappointed and I’m really apologetic that I wasn’t able to perform to my expectations.”

Though he struggled in his return from Tommy John surgery in 2012, Matsuzaka had his best strikeout rate (8.1 per nine innings) since 2009 and his lowest walk rate (3.9 per nine innings) since 2007.

Also in the piece is news that the Padres have offered their vacant bullpen coach position to Bob McClure. McClure, who served as the Red Sox’ pitching coach in 2012, was let go by the Sox in midseason, having not seen eye-to-eye with then-manager Bobby Valentine. McClure worked in the Rockies organization at the same time current Padres general manager Josh Byrnes was Colorado’s general manager.

To read the entire report, click here.

Read More: 2012 Hot Stove, bob mcclure, Daisuke Matsuzaka,
Larry Lucchino on D&C: ‘No way of knowing’ who the leak was 08.23.12 at 1:34 pm ET
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Red Sox president Larry Lucchino joined Dennis & Callahan on Thursday morning to talk about the firing of pitching coach Bob McClure, what’s wrong with the Red Sox and who’s to blame for the team’s failures. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.

The front office elected to fire McClure on Monday due to the team’s pitching struggles as the staff ranks 11th in the AL.

“This is a performance-driven business,” Lucchino said. “The instability of the starting pitching, the ineffectiveness of the starting pitcher has been our basic problem. You put that next to the epidemic of injuries, I think those are the two obvious points that one would turn to. So it was a question of performance. Now, in retrospect should we have done it earlier? Perhaps. But we did it when we came to the conclusion that the performance did not justify him remaining in that spot.”

Jeff Passan,who wrote the Yahoo! Sports article that exposed that Red Sox players had ripped Bobby Valentine in a July team meeting, covered the Royals when McClure was with Kansas City. This led people to believe that this connection could make McClure the one who leaked the story.

“I’m well aware of the overlap in Kansas City,” Lucchino said. “That’s not a surprise to me. That was called to my attention. But, again there’s no way of knowing so I’m not going to make any baseless acquisitions.”

The meeting that took place in July has been a source of numerous rumors for the Red Sox since it happened on July 26.

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Read More: bob mcclure, Bobby Valentine, Larry Lucchino,
Closing Time: Red Sox, Aaron Cook have sinking feeling in loss to Angels 08.21.12 at 10:13 pm ET
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New pitching coach, familiar result.

Though the Red Sox replaced pitching coach Bob McClure with Randy Niemann on Monday’s off-day, the Red Sox endured a familiar shortcoming from a member of their starting staff. For the 39th time this year, a Sox starter allowed five or more runs. The team’s record in such contests dropped to 7-32, with the Sox having lost each of their last 18 contests when a starter yielded a handful of runs.

Aaron Cook was the latest victim, as the right-hander permitted five runs on 11 hits in five innings of work in the Sox’ 5-3 loss to the Angels. The decisive blow came in the fifth when Mark Trumbo jumped on a motionless sinker and launched it into orbit for a two-run homer, the ninth allowed this year by Cook. Cook has now given up at least five runs in five of his last six outings.

The loss dropped the Sox to five games under .500 for the first time since May 12, as the team once again drifted a bit further from the pack of legitimate contenders and a step closer to a season spent playing out the string.


‘€¢ Cook dropped to 1-6 in his last eight starts. He did, however, strike out a season-high four, doubling the number of punchouts he recorded in his first five starts combined.

‘€¢ Adrian Gonzalez went 0-for-4, including a strikeout with two outs and runners on the corners in the fourth inning. His major league-leading average with runners in scoring position dropped from .409 to .406.

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Read More: aaron cook, bob mcclure, Mark Trumbo, Randy Niemann
Bobby Valentine on Randy Niemann: ‘What he brings is what is needed… a stabilizing force’ at 7:34 pm ET
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Now that the Red Sox have made a change at the pitching coach position, what’s next?

The answer comes in the name of Randy Niemann, a former Met who did not play for Bobby Valentine but rather was a bullpen coach in the Mets organization when Valentine was there in the late 90s and 2000s.

Now, Niemann, who came onto Valentine’s staff this year as a pitching staff assistant, will be charged with significantly more responsibility as Bob McClure‘s replacement. So, Valentine is not worried about any significant transition.

“Since Randy’s been here, I’m not sure that idea really applies,” Valentine said Tuesday. “And he did it for a few weeks without a wrinkle. I think of him as one of this year’s pitching coaches right from the beginning.”

Niemann has filled in this year when Bob McClure had to take a personal leave of absence and early in the season when bullpen coach Gary Tuck was recovering from a double hernia.

“He just has a common sense approach to things. He’s worked with all the guys on rehab this year,” Valentine said. “He’s been totally in charge of that so I think they understand that he understands the throwing motion. He was in the bullpen for a couple of weeks when Gary wasn’t here so the relievers got to know him a little during game situations. He was in the dugout for a couple of weeks when Bob wasn’t here. I think what he brings is what is needed, a nice stabilizing force.

“Gary Tuck is kind of a constant, too. I think he’ll take a little role in this whole six-week project, too. It’ll be OK for the pitchers, I believe.”

Read More: bob mcclure, Boston Red Sox, MLB, New York Mets
Highlights from Ben Cherington’s conference call discussing Bob McClure, Carl Crawford 08.20.12 at 7:54 pm ET
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On a conference call to discuss the firing of pitching coach Bob McClure and the Carl Crawford‘s upcoming Tommy John surgery, Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington said the dismissal of McClure was “performance-based,” but that the Sox also have to look inward at their pitching struggles.

‘€œHe’€™s a quality guy, a good coach,” Cherington said of McClure. “It just didn’€™t work out the way we’€™d hoped. Whenever it doesn’€™t work out, we have to look at ourselves first and ask what, if anything, we could have done differently to make it work better, so we’€™ll do that, but it just wasn’€™t working out. We felt like we needed to make a change. We felt like the right thing to do was to give everyone a fresh start and Bob will get a fresh start, and I fully expect him to get a good opportunity somewhere else.’€

Red Sox starters rank 25th in a majors with 57 quality starts, while Boston’s 4.30 team ERA ranks 23rd. Randy Niemann will take over as the team’s pitching coach.

Cherington noted that he does not foresee any more changes for now.

Here are other highlights from Cherington’s conference call:

On why they let McClure go:

‘€œThis was a performance-based decision. As I said yesterday and as I think bobby has said, I think there’€™s been a real good effort on the part of the staff to work together and iron out any communication issues that may have existed previously. We simply felt like we needed to make a change to put our pitchers in the best position to do what they needed to do the next six weeks. We feel like the next six weeks are important, no matter what our record ends up and there are things we need to accomplish the next six weeks to create a foundation going into the offseason. We felt like this change was needed to give ourselves the best chance to do that.’€

On Niemann as the new pitching coach:

“Randy’€™s got a lot of experience, too. He knows our guys well. He’€™s been involved with the pitching staff pretty intimately since the beginning of spring training. There won’€™t be any learning curve, that’€™s for sure. He’€™s done most jobs in the game. He was obviously a major-league pitcher himself and has had a long coaching career and has a lot of experience, and we felt like he can be part of the solution to making sure that we get a lot of good work done with our pitchers the rest of the season.’€

On coming to the decision for Crawford to get surgery:

‘€œThe medical staff, Pete Asnis, Rick Jameyson, our team physician and head trainer, ultimately make the recommendation, but there’€™s other people involved. We did consult Dr. Andrews again recently just to fill him in on the way it’€™s been and what Carl has gone through more recently and, ultimately, the medical staff, factoring in all the information including the recent increase in symptoms, made a recommendation that it’€™s probably something that needs to get done, and it’€™s just a question of when it gets done. We felt like the time was now.’€

On Crawford getting the surgery:

‘€œI think it became clear over the last few days that surgery was going to happen, it was just a question of when. We felt like after talking about it more this weekend and with Carl, the right thing to do was to get it taken care of now. Give Carl credit. He played through the injury and played pretty well. but the symptoms, it wasn’€™t getting better. the symptoms were getting worse. We just decided to ask him to keep going out there. we decided to take care of it now and he agreed with that.’€

Read More: ben cherington, bob mcclure, carl crawford, Randy Niemann
Early Monday clubhouse notes: Bob McClure defends the windup from Bobby Valentine’s attacks 03.12.12 at 9:56 am ET
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FORT MYERS, Fla. — It was an intriguing suggestion, made late on Friday night. Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine was taking stock of the outing of reliever Junichi Tazawa, and he was admittedly puzzled by the fact that a pitcher who is being evaluated solely as a reliever had been using a windup.

After all, Tazawa operated solely out of the stretch when he came to the U.S. from Japan. The windup has been a work-in-progress for him since the day he started pitching in the Red Sox system, and it remains so — part of the reason that the Sox believe that he is a reliever rather than a starter.

But Valentine did not merely suggest that it was odd for Tazawa to use the windup. He expanded his assessment to all pitchers. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: bob mcclure, Bobby Valentine, carl crawford,
Red Sox notes: Cooking up another starting candidate? 03.10.12 at 7:54 pm ET
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FORT MYERS, Fla. — The Red Sox are starting their third turn of the rotation. Opening Day is now fewer than four weeks away. And so, it would seem, it would be difficult for someone other than the five candidates who have made two or three appearances this spring to assert himself as a starting candidate.

But that is precisely what Aaron Cook will try to do on Sunday. Cook has been healthy this spring, but the Sox elected to have him follow a conservative schedule this spring in deference to the fact that he’s dealt with shoulder issues in each of the last two seasons.

On the day that likely Opening Day starter Jon Lester makes his third start of the spring, in which he will stretch out to four innings, Cook will make his maiden appearance in Sarasota against the Orioles, pitching one to two innings.

It remains to be seen whether he has time to assert himself as a candidate for the Sox rotation by the time the team needs a fifth starter on April 11. Sox decision-makers are ruling him neither out nor in.

“You know, he’€™s in that running for the four or five starting guys. He’€™s one of the guys in there,” said Sox pitching coach Bob McClure. “[The calendar] may be an issue at some point. I don’€™t want to rush him. I want him healthy and so does he. He doesn’€™t want to go backwards either. We’€™ll just have to see on that. But I’€™m not going to rush him through it because he’€™s got a career still ahead of him.” Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: aaron cook, bob mcclure, Bobby Valentine, darnell mcdonald
A mending Daisuke Matsuzaka works to find his command at 6:53 pm ET
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FORT MYERS, Fla. — The idea of Daisuke Matsuzaka pitching in 2012 is becoming increasingly real.

The right-hander, now nine months removed from Tommy John surgery, threw a 40-pitch side session on Saturday in which he mixed sliders into his repertoire for the first time since the procedure. After the session, Sox pitching coach Bob McClure suggested that Matsuzaka is progressing extremely well in his rehab, to the point where he looked like a pitcher who never required surgery.

“As far as from what I’€™m seeing from a health standpoint, it was hard to tell he was ever even hurt from the way he’€™s throwing the baseball right now,” said McClure. “That doesn’€™t mean he’€™s ready, by no means. I’€™m just saying it’€™s free and easy, it’€™s coming out of his hand really good. It’€™s clean, it looks sharp. Looks like he’€™s on schedule.”

McClure said that there is no timetable for Matsuzaka’s rehab. However, the pitching coach said that once Matsuzaka had “a couple” more side sessions, barring a setback, he would then progress to throwing three or four live batting practice sessions, eventually including simulated innings.

During the side sessions, McClure and Matsuzaka are working on the pitcher’s direction to the plate. McClure noted that Matsuzaka tends to open up with his glove hand and head, with part of his body rotating towards first base when he throws. That, in turn, hampers the pitcher’s command and also places stress on his shoulder.

“We’€™re really dealing with some issues as far as a mechanical standpoint in order to get his body in the right position so this doesn’€™t happen again. There’€™s a little bit from where the rehab where he got into some bad habits,” said McClure. “It’€™s very simple. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: bob mcclure, Daisuke Matsuzaka,
Jarrod Saltalamacchia: Added pressure on ourselves is ‘where we faltered’ 02.17.12 at 3:24 pm ET
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FORT MYERS, Fla. — Whether or not Jason Varitek reports to camp this spring with the Red Sox, the leadership of the pitching staff will fall directly on the shoulders of Jarrod Saltalamacchia.

And Friday afternoon, after a grueling day of work in the burning sun that baked both of his forearms, Saltalamacchia said he doesn’t feel any added pressure after “The Collapse” from last September.

“I don’t feel any added pressure, no, because we’re going to have to do it together,” Saltalamacchia said. “When I mean leader, I’m not going to have a ‘C’ on my chest, I’m not going to tell people what to do. But I’m going to go about my business the right way, lead by example a little bit on that front, and get to know the pitchers, get to know them a little more and find out what we can do.”

Saltalamacchia said he’s gotten a head start on the season by speaking with new pitching coach Bob McClure.

“I spoke with Bob, and he’s been great as far as the pitching side of it and getting feedback from him has been great,” Saltalamacchia said.

“I don’t think last year there was any kind of [lack of] leadership. We all knew what to do. You’re with a team that’s been there, done that. Guys with two rings, guys with one so we knew what we had to do. I think we might have put a little added pressure on ourselves and that’s where we faltered.”

Read More: bob mcclure, Boston Red Sox, jarrod saltalamacchia, Jason Varitek
Red Sox pitching coach Bob McClure on The Big Show: ‘Kick ass and win’ 12.26.11 at 6:54 am ET
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Asked to articulate his pitching philosophy in an interview on The Big Show, new Red Sox pitching coach Bob McClure articulated a fairly straightforward vision: “Kick ass and win,” said McClure, who appeared in 698 games over parts of 19 seasons in the big leagues and who spent the last six seasons as the pitching coach of the Royals.

One of McClure’s initial challenges in that ambition will be to work with a pair of pitchers who spent last season as members of the Red Sox bullpen but who will arrive in spring training competing for spots in the starting rotation. Both Daniel Bard and Alfredo Aceves face that potential transition, yet their ultimate responsibilities for the 2012 season remain unknown. The remaining moves by the Red Sox this offseason and the performance of the two pitchers in spring training will determine their roles for next season.

That said, McClure believes that bringing relievers into camp as starters can have significant benefit for the pitchers, regardless of the role that they end up serving. Indeed, based on his experience in Kansas City, McClure has seen that the biggest benefit to the pitching staff of a spring conversion project may come to the bullpen.

As a Royals pitching coach, McClure had a pair of relievers — Jaokim Soria in 2007 and Kyle Farnsworth in 2010 — who produced tremendous seasons after spending spring training in the rotation. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: alfredo aceves, bob mcclure, Daniel Bard, Joakim Soria
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