Bianca Smith, Katie Krall leave Red Sox organization to pursue other opportunities

Bianca Smith has left the Red Sox organization after spending the last two seasons as a minor-league coach in Fort Myers, according to The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier.

Smith was originally hired by Boston in January 2021, making her the first Black woman to coach in professional baseball history. She first served in a part-time capacity before being promoted to a full-time role with the rookie-level Florida Complex League last year.

Per Speier, Smith’s contract expired at the conclusion of the 2022 campaign. The Red Sox offered her a multi-year deal to continue coaching in the organization, but she turned it down to pursue other opportunities.

“[The offer] was still a coaching position; it just wasn’t where I wanted to be,” Smith told Speier recently. “I just decided that it was a better fit for me to try to find something else. I absolutely loved my time there. I even told them, I would love to come back if the position was a good fit.

“I know any time [another] team calls and asks about me, [the Red Sox] have been saying positive things,” she continued. “Of course, teams have been asking why I’m leaving. It’s pretty much the same thing. Just looking for a different opportunity.”

Prior to joining the Red Sox organization, Smith served as an assistant athletic director, assistant baseball coach, and hitting coordinator at Carroll University in Waukesha, Wisc. She also has past experience interning with the Reds and Rangers.

“During her time here, it was exciting to see her continually grow as a staff member,” Red Sox director of player development Brian Abraham said. “She was a pleasure to work alongside. Her constant energy, passion to help players, improve our organization, and overall knowledge of the game will be missed.”

In addition to Smith, Katie Krall also declined an offer to return to Boston’s minor-league coaching ranks. The Red Sox hired Krall last January to serve as a development coach with Double-A Portland, making them the first organization to have two women on coaching staffs.

Krall made history in her own right last April by becoming the first female coach to make an on-field appearance in a Double-A game. Towards the end of the season, she was named the Sea Dogs’ Charlie Eshbach Citizen of the Year for her involvement within the Portland community.

“She did a really good job for us,” Abraham said of Krall, who is expected to pursue front office opportunities elsewhere.

While Smith and Krall have left the organization, the Red Sox have added another woman to a minor-league coaching staff in Taylor Jackson. Jackson, who served as a video intern for High-A Greenville in 2022, will transition to a coaching role with the Drive under manager Iggy Suarez.

(Picture of Bianca Smith: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Red Sox finalize 2023 coaching staff by making addition of new first base coach official

The Red Sox have have finalized their coaching staff for the 2023 season, the team announced earlier Wednesday morning. As part of Wednesday’s announcement, Boston officially named Kyle Hudson the club’s new first base coach and outfield instructor.

Hudson, who spent the previous three seasons with the Guardians as a member of Terry Francona’s coaching staff, is the only outside addition the Red Sox made this winter. Boston had a vacancy at first base coach after Ramon Vazquez was promoted to bench coach in late November. That promotion came about after Will Venable left the organization to become the Rangers’ associate manager under Bruce Bochy.

Outside of that, Alex Cora’s coaching staff from 2022 will remain largely unchanged. Vazquez is the new bench coach and Hudson is the new first base coach/outfield instructor, as previously mentioned.

From there, Dave Bush (pitching coach), Kevin Walker (bullpen coach), Pete Fatse (hitting coach), Luis Ortiz (assistant hitting coach/interpreter), Ben Rosenthal (assistant hitting coach), Carlos Febles (third base coach/infield instructor), Andy Fox (field coordinator), and Jason Varitek (game planning coordinator/catching coach) will all resume their previously-established roles.

(Picture of Alex Cora: Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

Red Sox to hire Kyle Hudson as first base coach, per report

The Red Sox are hiring Guardians outfield coach Kyle Hudson as their new first base coach, according to Boston Sports Journal’s Sean McAdam.

Hudson, who turns 36 next week, has spent the last three seasons in Cleveland working as an assistant under Terry Francona. He originally joined the Guardians organization as a minor-league coach in 2017 and served as the bench coach for Cleveland’s Triple-A affiliate in Columbus in 2019 before making the jump to the major-league level in 2020.

A native of Mattoon, Ill., Hudson played both football (as a wide receiver) and baseball (as an outfielder) at Illinois. He was selected by the Orioles in in the fourth round of the 2008 amateur draft and debuted for Baltimore in September 11. As part of a brief 14-game cameo, the left-handed hitter went 4-for-28 (.143) at the plate with two RBIs, three runs scored, and two stolen bases.

For his minor-league career, Hudson spent time with five different organizations (Orioles, Phillies, Rays, Angels, and Dodgers) over the course of eight seasons (2008-2015). He briefly coached at his alma meter before first joining the Guardians as a coach in 2017.

The Red Sox had a vacancy at the first base coach position after Ramon Vazquez was promoted to bench coach. That promotion came in the wake of Will Venable leaving the organization to become the Rangers’ associate manager in mid-November.

With the addition of Hudson, Boston has finished filling out its coaching staff for the 2023 season. Hitting coach Pete Fatse, assistant hitting coaches Luis Ortiz and Ben Rosenthal, pitching coach Dave Bush, bullpen coach Kevin Walker, third base coach Carlos Febles, field coordinator Andy Fox, and game-planning coordinator Jason Varitek will all be back in the same roles on Alex Cora’s staff.

(Picture of Kyle Hudson: Stephen Maturen/Getty Images)

Red Sox officially promote Ramón Vázquez to bench coach

UPDATE: The Red Sox have officially named Vazquez as their next bench coach, the club announced on Tuesday. Vazquez becomes the fourth different bench coach Boston has had since the start of the 2018 season.

The Red Sox are promoting Ramon Vazquez from first base coach to bench coach, according to reporter Edwin Hernandez Jr. (@LBPRCinEnglish) on Twitter.

Vazquez, who has been managing the Criollos de Caguas of the Puerto Rican Winter League this offseason, will be taking over for Will Venable. After serving as Boston’s bench coach for the last two seasons, Venable left the club earlier this month to become the associate manager of the Rangers under Bruce Bochy.

A native of Puerto Rico himself, Vazquez first joined manager Alex Cora’s coaching staff as a statistical analysis coordinator in November 2017. He remained in that role for three seasons before taking on more responsibility as a quality control coach in 2021. When Tom Goodwin’s unvaccinated status kept him off the field, Vazquez filled in as the first base coach for the entirety of the Sox’ postseason run. He was named the full-time first base coach last December after the club elected to part ways with Goodwin.

Prior to joining the Red Sox as a coach, Vazquez spent three seasons (2014-2016) in the Astros organization. He served as Houston’s developmental specialist from 2014-15 and then managed its High-A minor-league affiliate in 2016. The following season, Vazquez got his first taste of life as a big-league coach with the Padres while working under Andy Green.

Going back to his playing days, the 46-year-old Vazquez is a veteran of nine major-league seasons (2001-2009) between the Mariners, Padres, Red Sox, Guardians, Rangers, and Pirates. In July 2005, Vazquez was traded from Boston to Cleveland in exchange for a fellow infielder (and Puerto Rican) in Cora.

In becoming the Red Sox’ next bench coach, Vazquez has opted to step down as Caguas’ manager in order to focus on his new duties. This comes just 10 months after he became the third manager ever to win four titles in the Puerto Rican Winter League.

With Vazquez taking over for Venable as Cora’s top lieutenant, the Red Sox now have an opening at first base coach. It remains to be seen how they will go about filling that vacancy. As far as internal candidates are concerned, major-league field coordinator Andy Fox and Triple-A Worcester bench coach Jose David Flores could garner consideration since they have prior experience at the position. Fox was the Marlins’ first base coach from 2007-2009 while Flores served in the role with the Phillies in 2018.

(Picture of Ramon Vazquez: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Will Venable leaves Red Sox to become Rangers’ associate manager

Red Sox manager Alex Cora is going to need a new bench coach in 2023.

Will Venable, who held that title in Boston for the last two seasons, has been hired by the Texas Rangers to serve as associate manager on Bruce Bochy’s coaching staff next year, the club announced on Wednesday.

“Will is highly-regarded within the game, and I am very happy to have him on the staff as we prepare for the 2023 season,” Bochy said in a statement released by the team. “Will has acquired extensive coaching experience in a short period of time since his playing career ended, and that experience will be invaluable to me as we work to build a winning environment in Texas.”

Venable, 40, was originally named Red Sox bench coach in November 2020 after spending the previous four years with the Cubs as both an executive (2017) and base coach (2018-2020). Although he lost out to Cora in the managerial interview process that fall, Cora elected to tap him as one of his top lieutenants in the dugout.

Over the last two seasons, Venable was responsible for coordinating major-league spring training in Fort Myers and for coordinating Boston’s outfield instruction. He also stepped in as interim manager on two separate occasions while Cora was away for his daughter’s high school graduation last May and while Cora was out with COVID-19 this past April.

At the conclusion of the 2021 campaign, Venable — a Bay Area native — interviewed for the Athletics’ managerial opening before Oakland decided to hire Mark Kotsay. The New York Post’s Jon Heyman reported last month that Venable had emerged as a candidate for the Royals’ vacancy, which ultimately went to Rays bench coach Matt Quatraro.

Venable has connections to Texas. The former big-league outfielder spent part of the 2015 season with the Rangers and was teammates with general manager Chris Young for parts of three seasons (2008-2010) with the Padres. Both Venable and Young attended Princeton University.

With Venable’s departure, the Red Sox now have an important vacancy to fill on their coaching staff. It remains to be seen if Cora will look internally or externally to find Venable’s replacement. First base coach Ramon Vazquez, third base coach Carlos Febles, and game-planning coordinator Jason Varitek all represent strong internal options. Major-league field coordinator Andy Fox and Triple-A Worcester manager Chad Tracy could be considered as well.

Vazquez is currently in Puerto Rico serving as manager for the Criollos Cagaus while Febles is in the Dominican Republic serving as bench coach for the Tigres del Licey. Varitek, on the other hand, recently signed a multi-year contract extension to remain with the Red Sox. According to The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier, that deal is good for two years and includes a team option for a third.

In addition to Vazquez, Febles, Varitek, and Fox, all other Red Sox coaches are expected to return to the club next season. That includes pitching coach Dave Bush, bullpen coach Kevin Walker, hitting coach Pete Fatse, and assistant hitting coaches Luis Ortiz and Ben Rosenthal.

(Picture of Will Venable: Maddie Malhotra/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Red Sox sign game planning coordinator Jason Varitek to multi-year extension, per report

The Red Sox have signed game planning coordinator/catching coach Jason Varitek to a multi-year contract extension, a team source confirmed to The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier on Wednesday.

Varitek’s wife, Catherine, first broke the news on Twitter, noting that the former captain had signed up to remain with the Red Sox for the next three years. “You’re officially stuck with him!” she tweeted.

Originally acquired from the Mariners with Derek Lowe for reliever Heathcliff Slocumb at the 1997 trade deadline, Varitek has spent the last 25 years with the Red Sox organization in some capacity.

After retiring as a player before the start of the 2012 season, Varitek joined the Red Sox front office that September as a special assistant to the head of baseball operations. He concurrently served as a catching instructor and still does to this day.

Following the conclusion of the pandemic-shortened 2020 campaign, Varitek joined Boston’s major-league coaching staff on a full-time basis for the first time as he was named game planning coordinator under manager Alex Cora.

Now 50 years old, Varitek will be back in that same capacity in 2023, according to Speier. In addition to Varitek, Speier reports that the Red Sox expect the entirety of Cora’s 2022 coaching staff to be back next year, barring a major surprise.

Cora and chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom had implied as much during the team’s end-of-season press conference at Fenway Park last month.

“Actually, we talked to the possible free agents yesterday and everybody’s going to be back,” Cora told reporters (including MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo) on October 6.

This past season, Cora’s staff was comprised of bench coach Will Venable, hitting coach Peter Fatse, assistant hitting coaches Luis Ortiz and Ben Rosenthal, pitching coach Dave Bush, first base coach Ramon Vazquez, third base coach Carlos Febles, bullpen coach Kevin Walker, major-league field coordinator Andy Fox, and Varitek.

Venable was linked to the Royals’ managerial opening in recent weeks, but that vacancy has since been filled by Rays bench coach Matt Quatraro. The White Sox were the last team without a manager as of earlier this week, but they are expected to tap Kansas City bench coach Pedro Grifol for the job in the coming days.

(Picture of Jason Varitek: Mike Carlson/Getty Images)

Red Sox hire former Cubs hitting coach Anthony Iapoce as senior hitting coordinator

The Red Sox have hired Anthony Iapoce as minor-league senior hitting coordinator, the club announced on Thursday.

Iapoce, 48, joins the Red Sox organization after spending the last six seasons as a major-league hitting coach with the Chicago Cubs (2019-2021) and Texas Rangers (2016-2018).

Under Iapoce, the Cubs ranked sixth in the National League in runs scored (1,784), seventh in RBIs (1,703), and eighth in team wRC+ (95) over the last three seasons. His contract was not renewed by Chicago last fall.

A native of New York, Iapoce was originally selected by the Brewers in the 33rd round of the 1994 amateur draft out of Lamar University (Beaumont, Texas). The right-handed hitting outfielder spent seven years in Milwaukee’s farm system.

After not playing affiliated ball in 2001, Iapoce joined the Marlins organization in 2002 and spent the entirety of the year with the Double-A Portland Sea Dogs, who were not yet affiliated with the Red Sox.

Iapoce made it back to Triple-A in 2003, but closed out his playing career with the Gary SouthShore Railcats of the independent Northern League before hanging up his cleats in 2005.

Since his playing days came to an end, Iapoce has served as a hitting coach with the Marlins and a hitting coordinator with the Blue Jays. From 2013-2015, he served as a special assistant to the general manager with the Cubs and oversaw the club’s minor-league hitting program during his first stint there.

As senior hitting coordinator for the Red Sox, Iapoce will work alongside Lance Zawadzki and Reed Gragnani, both of whom were formally promoted to the role of hitting coordinator on Thursday.

Zawadszki, 36, has been coaching within the Red Sox organization since 2018. The Framingham native has spent the last two seasons as Double-A Portland’s hitting coach.

Gragnani, 31, played four seasons in Boston’s farm system (2013-2016) before transitioning to a coaching role in 2017. The Virginia native served as the club’s Mid-Atlantic area scout from 2018-2019 and spent the last two years as an assistant hitting coordinator.

(Picture of Anthony Iapoce: USA TODAY)

Red Sox finalize coaching staff for 2022 season, hire Luis Ortiz and Ben Rosenthal as assistant hitting coaches

The Red Sox have finalized their coaching staff for the 2022 season under manager Alex Cora, the club announced earlier Monday morning.

As was first reported by The Boston Herald’s Steve Hewitt in November, Peter Fatse has officially been named as the Sox’ new hitting coach while taking over for Tim Hyers.

Fatse, 34, originally joined Boston’s coaching staff as assistant hitting coach under Hyers in October 2019. After serving in that role for the last two seasons, the Hampden, Mass. native was promoted to become the club’s hitting coach in the wake of Hyers departing for the same role with the Rangers last month.

With Fatse moving up the ladder, the Red Sox added two new assistant hitting coaches to Cora’s staff in Luis Ortiz and Ben Rosenthal.

Ortiz, 51, is a former big-league third baseman who was drafted by Boston in 1991 and spent parts of two seasons with the club in 1993 and 1994. The Santo Domingo native served as Texas’ hitting coach for the last three seasons after spending the 2018 campaign as an assistant hitting coach with the Dodgers. He also has experience as a coordinator/instructor within the Rangers, Guardians, and Padres’ organizations.

Rosenthal, 42, went undrafted out of San Diego State University, but spent two seasons (2004-2005) in the Cardinals organization before calling it a playing career in 2006. From that point forward, the Arizona native served as an assistant coach at Bishop Gorman High School (Nev.) from 2011-2012, head coach of Mira Mesa High School (Calif.) in 2013, and as third base coach and hitting coach for Point Loma Nazarene University (Calif.) from 2014-16.

Since 2017, Rosenthal had been coaching in the Astros organization, most recently serving as the hitting coach for Houston’s Triple-A affiliate from 2019 through the end of the 2021 season.

In addition to this one promotion and two new hires, the Red Sox announced three more internal promotions. Ramon Vazquez has been named the club’s new first base coach, Andy Fox has been named major-league field coordinator, and Mike Brenly has been named major-league staff assistant.

Vazquez has been part of Cora’s staff since 2018 and will make the transition from quality control coach to first base coach after the Red Sox parted ways with Tom Goodwin in October. He will also coordinate the club’s base running instruction.

The 45-year-old should be familiar with that role since he became Boston’s first base coach during the 2021 postseason after Goodwin was forced to leave the team as a result of MLB protocols not granting on-field access to those who were not vaccinated against COVID-19.

Fox, who turns 51 next month, has been with the Red Sox for 11 years as the club’s minor-league infield coordinator (2011-2021) and assistant field coordinator (2019-21). He also worked with the major-league team during the later stages of the 2021 season.

Brenly, on the other hand, will assume the role of major-league staff assistant after spending the last six seasons as a bullpen catcher for the Red Sox.

Besides all these changes, the rest of Cora’s staff from the 2021 season will remain intact. Will Venable is back as bench coach, Dave Bush is back as pitching coach, Kevin Walker is back as bullpen coach, Carlos Febles is back as third base coach, and Jason Varitek will return as Boston’s game planning coordinator and catching coach.

“I feel fortunate to work with such a talented and diverse group of coaches,” Cora said in a statement released by the team. “In addition to Luis and Ben bringing fresh perspectives from outside of our organization, I am excited for the new opportunities presented to Pete, Ramón, and Mike. Andy has been a valuable member of the Red Sox for more than a decade, and I’m thrilled to welcome him to the major-league staff. I look forward to working with this group to achieve the ultimate goal of winning another World Series.”

(Picture of Alex Cora: Elsa/Getty Images)

Red Sox bench coach Will Venable interviews for Athletics’ managerial opening, per report

Red Sox bench coach Will Venable has recently interviewed for the Athletics’ managerial opening, according to The Athletic’s Britt Ghiroli and Ken Rosenthal.

Per Ghiroli and Rosenthal, Venable is one of six candidates Oakland has or are planning to interview alongside Rays bench coach Matt Quatraro, Astros bench coach Joe Espada and three internal options in Mark Kotsay, Marcus Jensen, and Darren Bush.

The Athletics are looking to fill their managerial vacancy after longtime skipper Bob Melvin left the organization to join the Padres in the same capacity in late October.

While Oakland’s list of potential candidates is wide-ranging, Venable does have an interesting case considering the fact that he grew up in nearly San Rafael, Calif. and has interviewed for other openings in the past.

A veteran of nine major-league seasons as an outfielder, Venable was originally named Alex Cora’s bench coach last November after three years as a base coach and bench coach with the Cubs.

As noted by MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo, the 39-year-old talked with the Astros, Cubs, and Giants about their managerial openings at the conclusion of the 2019 season and was considered by both the Tigers and Red Sox last offseason.

Besides the A’s, the only other club looking to hire a manager at the moment are the Mets, who have apparently yet to reach out to Venable, per Cotillo.

If neither the Athletics nor Mets poach Venable away from the Red Sox, Cora’s coaching staff for the 2022 season will look very similar to the one he rolled out in 2021.

That being said, Cora’s coaching staff for 2022 has yet to be finalized, as Boston is still looking to fill two vacancies after first base coach Tom Goodwin was fired and hitting coach Tim Hyers left for the Rangers.

Pete Fatse, previously the assistant hitting coach under Hyers, is expected to be promoted to hitting coach. Who the Red Sox have in mind to take over as assistant hitting coach or first base coach has yet to be determined.

(Picture of Will Venable: Carmen Mandato/Getty Images)

Former Red Sox hitting coach Tim Hyers joining Rangers in same capacity, per report

Former Red Sox hitting coach Tim Hyers has joined the Rangers organization in the same capacity, according to ESPN’s Jeff Passan.

Hyers, 50, departed from the Red Sox last week even after the team made an offer for him to return in 2022. The reasoning behind his departure mainly revolved around the idea of pursuing other opportunities, as he explained to The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier.

Less than a full week after leaving the Sox, it turns out Hyers has indeed found a new opportunity for himself. And while he reportedly drew interest from the Yankees, he ultimately lands with the Rangers.

Hyers was originally named to Red Sox manager Alex Cora’s coaching staff in November 2017 after previously serving as the club’s minor-league hitting coordinator from 2013-2015.

Over the four seasons Hyers was put in charge of their offensive approach, the Sox led all of Major League Baseball in  runs per game (5.31), batting average (.266), slugging percentage (.455), and OPS (.790). They additionally ranked third in on-base percentage (.335) and fourth in wRC+ (108) over that stretch, per FanGraphs.

In between stints as Boston’s minor-league hitting coordinator and major-league hitting coach, Hyers served as an assistant hitting coach for the Dodgers from 2016-2017. At that same time, current Rangers manager Chris Woodward served as Los Angeles’ third base coach under Dave Roberts from 2016-2018.

Any sort of relationship Hyers and Woodward established with the Dodgers presumably played a role in the former joining the latter’s coaching staff with the Rangers.

While Boston’s offense enjoyed plenty of success under Hyers in 2021, the same cannot be said for Texas, who finished the season with a record of 60-102 while regularly fielding unproductive lineups.

In the process of finishing with one of the worst records in baseball, the Rangers ranked 28th in the league in runs per game (3.86), 29th in batting average (.232), 30th in on-base percentage (.294), 28th in slugging percentage (.375) and dead last in OPS (.670). They ultimately dismissed their former hitting coach Luis Ortiz last month.

By hiring Hyers, the Rangers will obviously be hoping to have a revamped offense in 2022. The Red Sox, meanwhile, are expected to promote Peter Fatse, who served as assistant hitting coach under Hyers each of the last two seasons, to become the team’s new hitting coach.

Fatse, 34, is a native of Hampden, Mass. and played his college baseball at the University of Connecticut before being selected by the Brewers in the 24th round of the 2009 amateur draft.

(Picture of Tim Hyers: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)