Red Sox make Will Venable hiring official, announce other coaching staff changes for 2021

Red Sox manager Alex Cora’s coaching staff for the upcoming 2021 season is now set.

While pitching coach Dave Bush, hitting coach Tim Hyers, assistant hitting coach Peter Fatse, first base coach Tom Goodwin, and third base coach Carlos Febles will retain the same roles they held this past season, changes have been made in other areas.

For starters, Will Venable has officially been named Red Sox bench coach after it was reported on Tuesday that he was going to get the job.

The former big-league outfielder had spent the previous three seasons as a first and third base coach with the Cubs, and he was one of several candidates who interviewed for Boston’s managerial opening last month.

That vacancy was ultimately filled by Cora, but the 38-year-old Venable now has the chance to strengthen his resume as a bench coach for the first time in his coaching career.

“Will is a bright, young mind that will add a lot to what is already a strong collection of coaches,” Cora said of Venable in a statement released by the team earlier Friday.

With Venable succeeding Jerry Narron, who succeeded Ron Roenicke, as bench coach, the Red Sox also named Jason Varitek as the club’s new game-planning coordinator.

For the past eight years, Varitek had been working for the Red Sox in a special assistant/catching coach capacity. He, like new quality control coach/interpreter Ramon Vazquez, will now step into more significant roles within the organization moving forward.

“I am also pleased that both Jason and Ramón will step forward and play larger roles for us,” Cora added.

Finally, Kevin Walker, who was named assistant pitching coach under Bush last October, has been named the Sox’ new bullpen coach. That position opened up when Craig Bjornson was let go by the club last month.

With his promotion, it would appear that the Red Sox could be in need of a new assistant pitching coach to take over for Walker unless they otherwise choose not to carry one next year.

That being said, Cora seems pleased with his new-look coaching staff as he prepares to embark on his second stint as Red Sox skipper.

“I am thrilled to have so many great baseball minds on our staff,” he said, “and I look forward to their contributions as we set out to achieve our goals.”

Red Sox expected to name Will Venable as next bench coach, per report

The Red Sox are expected to name Will Venable as their next bench coach, according to MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo.

Per Cotillo, “the team has not confirmed the move but it is expected to be finalized in the coming days.”

Venable, who recently turned 38, has spent the last three seasons with the Cubs as both a first and third base coach. He was one of several candidates who interviewed for Boston’s managerial opening last month, but that position was ultimately retained by Alex Cora.

At the time of Cora’s rehiring, it appeared as though the Sox skipper would elevate someone from his coaching staff, such as Carlos Febles or Ramon Vazquez, to bench coach, but that now appears extremely unlikely given Tuesday’s news.

In Venable, the Red Sox do not get a bench coach with prior big-league managerial experience, as was the case with Cora’s first bench coach in Ron Roenicke. They do however get someone who, like Cora and Roenicke, has experience playing in the majors.

That being the case because over the course of a nine-year big-league career, Venable racked up 707 hits while playing for three different teams in the Padres, Rangers, and Dodgers from 2008 until 2016.

A native of California, Venable was taken by San Diego in the seventh round of the 2005 amateur draft after excelling as a two-sport athlete in both basketball and baseball at Princeton University.

Given the fact that he has been considered for other managerial openings in the past, one would have to assume Venable will use this opportunity with the Red Sox to further strengthen his resume moving forward.

On another note, it should be fascinating to see how Cora interacts with and uses Venable now that he has a bench coach younger than he is.

Red Sox Managerial Search: Yankees Bench Coach Carlos Mendoza Interviewed for Opening, per Report

The Red Sox have reportedly interviewed Yankees bench coach Carlos Mendoza for their managerial opening, according to The New York Post’s George A. King III.

Per King, Mendoza has talked with the Tigers in regards to their vacancy at manager as well.

Mendoza, who turns 41 next month, has spent the last 12 seasons with the Yankees, most recently serving as manager Aaron Boone’s bench coach for the first time this year.

Prior to being named bench coach, the native of Venezuela worked two seasons as New York’s first-ever quality control and infield coach in 2018 and 2019. He also has experience as a coach and manager in the minor-leagues, as well as stints as manager for the Arizona Fall League’s Scottsdale Scorpions in 2012 and 2016.

A veteran of 13 minor-league and independent seasons as a professional, the former utility infielder is now the seventh confirmed managerial candidate the Sox have interviewed in recent weeks. The other six include Cubs third base coach Will Venable, Pirates bench coach Don Kelly, Diamondbacks bench coach Luis Urueta, Padres associate manager Skip Schumaker, Twins bench coach Mike Bell, and Marlins bench coach James Rowson.

Of course, as soon as this year’s World Series comes to a close, which will happen on either Tuesday or Wednesday, former Sox skipper Alex Cora will have finished serving his one-year suspension for the role he played in the Astros’ 2017 sign-stealing scandal.

Cora, who was at the helm in Boston for two years, is thought to be the favorite to return to his old post in place of the ousted Ron Roenicke, but given the qualities of the other candidates listed above, Red Sox chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom and Co. could be looking to go in a new direction in terms of on-field team leadership. We will have to wait and see on that.

Red Sox Officially Name Jerry Narron Bench Coach

The Red Sox have hired Jerry Narron to serve as the club’s bench coach under interim manager Ron Roenicke. The club made the move official following Saturday’s 4-3 win over the Tampa Bay Rays.

Narron, 64, had served as bench coach for the Diamondbacks under old friend Torey Lovullo for the last three seasons, but left the organization at the conclusion of the 2019 campaign after Arizona decided to promote Luis Urueta to the position.

If Narron’s name sounds familiar, that’s because he had previously been the Red Sox’ bench coach going way back to 2003, when Grady Little was at the helm in Boston.

It was a brief stint, but Narron said that he “had a great year here and enjoyed it.”

Prior to that, the North Carolina native managed the Texas Rangers from May 2001 until the conclusion of the 2002 season, where he posted a record of 134-162.

After spending the 2003 campaign with the Sox, Narron joined the Reds’ coaching staff as bench coach under then-manager Dave Miley before being named interim manager in June 2005.

That ‘interim’ tag was eventually removed, but Narron was fired by the Reds a little more than two years after his initial promotion. He went 157-179 while in charge in Cincinnati.

From there, Narron returned to the Rangers in 2008 to work as a front office consultant before being hired as the Brewers’ bench coach prior to the start of the 2011 season.

The manager who hired him at the time? Ron Roenicke.

Narron served as bench coach under Roenicke throughout his entire tenure as manager in Milwaukee and remained with the club even after Roenicke was fired midway through the 2015 season.

“He’s got a great baseball mind.” Roenicke said of Narron when speaking to reporters Saturday. “He’s a lot smarter than I am which helps me to go to him when I want to. All of that helps make things go smoother here.”

Upon being named interim manager earlier in the month, Roenicke was left without a bench coach, the role he had previously held under Alex Cora.

There was plenty of speculation that Roenicke, along with chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom and general manager Brian O’Halloran, were going to go with an internal candidate for the position. But, going with someone who is familiar with Roenicke and his style isn’t too bad, either.

“I wouldn’t do it just because [Narron’s] familiar with me,” said Roenicke. “I’d do it because he’s really good.”

Narron should also be somewhat familiar with at least one player on the Sox’ 40-man roster in J.D. Martinez, who spent the latter half of the 2017 campaign with the Diamondbacks after coming over in a July trade from the Tigers that year.

We should see Narron on the bench for the first time on Sunday afternoon, when the Red Sox take on the Orioles in Sarasota.