How Rob Refsnyder turned his career around in first year with Red Sox

As spring training was drawing to a close in Fort Myers last year, Rob Refsnyder was informed that he would not be breaking camp with the Red Sox.

Refsynder, who signed a minor-league deal with Boston over the winter that included an invite to major-league camp, would instead be reporting to Triple-A Worcester for the start of the 2022 season. Before the big-league club headed to New York for their opening series against the Yankees, though, the 31-year-old journeyman approached Red Sox hitting coach Peter Fatse.

Due to the nature of a lockout-abbreviated camp, Fatse had not been able to spend much time working with Boston’s non-roster invitees in the batting cages of the Fenway South complex. With seemingly nothing to lose, Refsnyder went up to Fatse in hopes of working with him just once before joining the WooSox in Jacksonville.

“I was like you know what, Fatse, everyone speaks so highly of him,” Refsnyder recalled to The Athletic’s Jen McCaffrey. “I didn’t get that much time with him, especially as a minor-league signing, so he was available and I went up to him and said, ‘Hey, I’d love to work with you before I leave.'”

That decision would prove to pay off for Refsnyder. On April 4, he and Fatse worked through a self-described “life-changing” hitting session.

Refsnyder, who to that point in his career had played in parts of six major-league seasons for the Yankees, Blue Jays, Rays, Rangers, and Twins, had always had difficulties against right-handed pitching. Those struggles could be attributed to the fact that the right-handed hitter had trouble staying inside the ball due to his swing mechanics.

As outlined by McCaffrey, Refsynder had “been hyper-focused on his upper-half movements, but less so on his lower half, which forced him to open up too much on his swing. It was something he was aware of but always struggled to fix.”

During that April 4 hitting session, however, something clicked while Refsnyder was working with Fatse, which allowed him to unlock a new component of his swing.

“Fatse really dumbed it down for me,” Refsnyder said. “He really helped me understand how the lower half should work. It’s super simple stuff, but I was like, ‘Damn.’”

As part of the session, Refsnyder picked up on the notion that if he kept his back heel planted on the ground, his lower half would stay more stable throughout his swing. That, in part, would allow him to get the ball in the air more frequently as opposed to hitting soft singles.

“I would just jump out of my swing and the barrel would drop under plane, and then come up really fast and create top spin,” said Refsnyder. “I think I’ve always been able to control the strike zone OK but I couldn’t do anything with the ball. Fatse unlocked that for me.”

Fatse, for his part, has worked with countless Red Sox hitters since joining the organization as an assistant hitting coach in October 2021. When speaking with McCaffrey, though, the Western Mass. native was able to remember that particular day with Refsnyder rather quickly.

“It was honestly probably more talking than hitting,” Fatse said. “I basically put together almost like a four-part iMovie of the drills and said, ‘Boom, do this, this, this and go.’ Let that be your fallback whenever you feel you need something, go back to this. These things are your staples in terms of your routine.

“The thing that stands out about that time to me,” he added, “it was the physical element of the swing, but it was the mental, like, ‘You’re going to help us. We need you to be locked and loaded when it’s your time,’ and to his credit, if it helped him, great, but he was ready to go when it was his time. He set the league on fire in Triple-A.”

With a condensed, four-minute video of his session with Fatse saved on his phone as a helpful reference, Refsnyder made his WooSox debut on April 5. While coordinating with hitting coach Rich Gedman and assistant hitting coach Mike Montville, he set the International League on fire by hitting safely in 10 of his first 11 games. He was then called up by the Red Sox when the club was dealing with a COVID outbreak in late April.

Upon returning to Worcester, Refsnyder picked up where he left off. By early June, he was batting a stout .306/.429/.524 with 14 doubles, six home runs, 28 RBIs, and 31 runs scored in 42 games. Around that same time, injuries began to pile up for the Red Sox. And so Refsnyder had his contract selected from Triple-A on June 8.

From that point forward, Refsnyder did not return to Worcester and instead put together the best year of his big-league career. In the process of registering a career-high 177 plate appearances over 57 games, Refsnyder slashed .307/.384/.497 with 11 doubles, six home runs, 21 RBIs, 25 runs scored, one stolen base, 15 walks, and 46 strikeouts. He also hit .308 as a pinch-hitter and posted a respectable .792 OPS off right-handed pitching.

On the other side of the ball, Refsnyder saw playing time at all three outfield positions for the Red Sox last year. The 6-foot, 205-pounder started 16 games in right, 13 in center, and two in left while ranking in the 90th percentile of all big-leaguers in arm strength (averaged 91.3 mph on his throws), per Baseball Savant.

In November, the Red Sox avoided arbitration with Refsnyder by signing him to a $1.2 million deal for the 2023 season. It might not seem that noteworthy on the surface, but it actually marked the first time in Refsnyder’s career that he had agreed to a guaranteed contract.

“This offseason, my wife and I celebrated our first guaranteed contract,” Refsnyder said in a recent interview with Red Sox Productions. “I always got to a point where I was like, ‘I wonder what this is going to feel like? If it’s going to feel any different.’ It’s almost like even more of a driving factor. It’s like, ‘Wow, a team has put a little bit of confidence in you. You better work your [expletive] off. You better live up to it or do the best you can trying to.”

Refsnyder, who turns 32 later this month, figures to serve as a fourth outfielder who fares well against lefties for Boston this season behind the likes of Masataka Yoshida, Adam Duvall, and Alex Verdugo. He will surely be looking to build off the momentum he gained in 2022 by taking another step forward this year.

Looking back, though, Refsnyder is in a much better place than he was 11 months ago. After being informed that he would not make the Red Sox’ Opening Day roster, Refsnyder told McCaffrey that he was at a crossroads and was even contemplating retirement.

Now, thanks in part to a memorable session in the cages with his hitting coach last April, Refsnyder is on track to head north with the Red Sox this time around.

“That session with Fatse really changed my life, to be honest,” said Refsnyder. “I still have it on my phone and it’s my favorite video when I’m not going well to look up.”

(Picture of Rob Refsnyder: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)


Former Red Sox hitting coach Tim Hyers explains why he left to take same job with Rangers; ‘It was a new challenge for me’

Back in November, hitting coach Tim Hyers left his post with the Red Sox to join the Texas Rangers in the same capacity. Considering the amount of success the Boston lineup enjoyed under Hyers the previous four seasons, it was deemed a surprising move.

With the Red Sox set to open a three-game weekend series against the Rangers in Arlington on Friday, Hyers will have the chance to reconnect with former colleagues on Alex Cora’s coaching staff who he still keeps in touch with now.

On Thursday, Hyers spoke with’s Christopher Smith from Globe Life Field about what specifically led him to leave the Red Sox for the Rangers. He emphasized that it was his decision alone and was not financially-motivated.

“It was a new challenge for me,” Hyers said. “Maybe they needed a new voice. Maybe. Maybe I needed a new scenery, a new environment to keep moving. I had all the confidence in the world with Pete [Fatse]. They’re going to be in great hands. So if there was a time for me to walk away, it was the time. And it was probably a little bit better for my family. My wife’s job moving back and forth here in Texas. So it’s probably a little easier on the family.”

Hyers’ wife, Kristin, works at at Georgia Transmission Corporation in Tucker, Ga., which is obviously closer to Arlington than it is Boston.

The Red Sox, Hyers explained “did everything” to bring him back and “were very generous in doing so.

“It was very open,” he said. “It was my call. And I’m the one who walked away.”

Before officially joining the Rangers’ coaching staff under Chris Woodward, Hyers interviewed with the Yankees, who also had an opening at hitting coach. He said that while he was flattered by having the opportunity to speak with the Yankees, he believed the Rangers were the better fit and opted to sign on there.

In Hyers’ final season as hitting coach in Boston in 2021, the Red Sox batted .261/.328/.449 (107 wRC+) as a team while averaging more than 5.1 runs per game. 2021 was also the second year in which Hyers had assistant hitting coach Pete Fatse working under him. The two had a strong relationship which led Hyers to believe Fatse was ready to take over for him beginning in 2022.

“If there was a time for a new voice and kind of moving forward, Pete was the guy,” said Hyers. “He had been there for two years. He had heard my language. He had heard if things were flowing. So if it was best for me and my family to walk and to do something else, they were in great hands.”

The Red Sox, as noted by Smith, hired Luis Ortiz and Ben Rosenthal to serve as assistant hitting coaches under Fatse.

“When Pete came around, it was like, man, I kind of found my brother in this game,” Hyers said. “We saw the swing and we saw a lot of how the offense should work, we saw it very similar. And obviously I’ve got a few more years ahead of him. I’m older. But that’s the way I felt. So when I say maybe a new voice, maybe that’s the time when, ‘Hey, he’s really good and maybe it’s best for me to go do something else.’”

Under Fatse, who is now a first-year hitting coach, the Red Sox offense has struggled mightily. They come into play Friday having scored 107 runs, the third-worst mark in the majors, while hitting a meager .229/.285/.345 (83 wRC+) as a team so far this season.

Despite those struggles, Hyers still feels as though the Sox are in good hands with Fatse as their hitting coach, noting that offense as a whole is down around the league this year.

“Pete is really smart,” Hyers said. “He’s a great hitting coach. I have all the confidence in the world in Pete. He made me a better hitting coach being a partner with him and co-worker. He’s really, really good. I’m sure him being the head guy, there’s things he’s going to have to learn and things you don’t see until you walk in those shoes. Adjustments to make. To me, it’s brand new every year. You have to maneuver how you want to help each hitter and how you want to help this team. And what’s the makeup of your team? When they go through slumps, how do you help them? Is it push or back off? What do you do?”

Hyers also cited the shortened spring training that came as a result of the lockout having an impact on new hitting coaches such as Fatse and even himself.

“It’s kind of like me here,” Hyers said. “You’re getting to know your players. You’re getting to know how they react to things.”

“Overall, hitting is down this year,” he added. “There’s a few clubs tearing it up. But for the most part, there’s a lot of clubs that are trying to find their footing here early in the season. I think pitching has put it to us offensively. No excuses, but I do feel that kind of the late start, maybe some of the hitters didn’t get their footing, their timing like they are usually accustomed to. And that could play a part in it.”

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

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)

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)

Red Sox expected to promote Peter Fatse to become team’s new hitting coach

Red Sox assistant hitting coach is expected to replace Tim Hyers as the team’s new hitting coach, according to The Boston Herald’s Steve Hewitt.

Per Hewitt, the Sox will promote Fatse to the role of hitting coach after Hyers informed the club that he would not be returning to Alex Cora’s coaching staff for the 2022 season.

The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier first reported on Hyers’ departure on Monday morning, citing that the 50-year-old “plans to pursue other opportunities, possibly college openings, but more likely with another team, perhaps including a broader role in another organization.”

Along with Hyers, the Red Sox announced last week that they had parted ways with first base coach and outfield instructor Tom Goodwin.

Fatse, meanwhile will become Boston’s hitting coach after spending the previous two seasons as the team’s assistant hitting coach under Hyers.

The 34-year-old out of Hampden, Mass. was originally named to Cora’s coaching staff in October 2019 to replace former assistant hitting coach Andy Barkett.

A product of the University of Connecticut, where he was teammates with future All-Stars such as Red Sox reliever Matt Barnes and Blue Jays outfielder George Springer, Fatse was selected by the Brewers in the 24th round of the 2009 amateur draft.

Listed at 5-foot-10 and 170 pounds at the time, the left-handed hitting infielder/outfielder played two seasons in the Brewers organization and two additional seasons of independent league baseball before calling it a career in 2012.

Two years prior to retiring, Fatse — a graduate of Minnechaug Regional High School who resides in Wilbraham, Mass. — founded the Advanced Performance Academy in Palmer, Mass. in 2010. He additionally served as the academy’s director of player development before joining the Minnesota Twins as their minor-league hitting coordinator in January 2019.

After overseeing Minnesota’s farm system throughout the 2019 season, Fatse was officially added to Cora’s coaching staff as assistant hitting coach on Oct. 31 of that year.

As noted by Speier, Hyers and Fatse developed a strong working relationship while overseeing one of the more potent offenses in all of baseball. There were even discussions between Hyers and the Sox to elevate Fatse to co-hitting coach before the former announced that he would be leaving.

That being said, Speier took to Twitter earlier Monday to note that while “Fatse is expected to be promoted,… the precise approach to the hitting coach roles is still being worked out by the Sox.”

Those details, as well as who could serve as Boston’s new assistant hitting coach under Fatse, will likely be revealed once the Red Sox make the promotion official, though it is not yet known when that will take place.

(Picture of Peter Fatse: Billie Weiss/MLB Photos via Getty Images)

Tim Hyers not returning as Red Sox hitting coach next season

Red Sox hitting coach Tim Hyers will not be returning to manager Alex Cora’s coaching staff for the 2022 season, according to The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier.

Per Speier, Hyers “declined the team’s offer to return” for 2022 and instead “plans to pursue other opportunities – possibly including college openings, but more likely with another team, perhaps including a broader role in another organization.”

Hyers, who turned 50 last month, was initially named Boston’s hitting coach in November 2017 after previously serving as the team’s minor-league hitting coordinator from 2013-2015 and as an assistant hitting coach with the Dodgers from 2016-2017.

In the four seasons Hyers was in command of the club’s offensive approach, the Red Sox — as noted by Speier — led all of Major League Baseball in runs per game (5.31), batting average (.266), slugging percentage (.455), and OPS .790. They also ranked third in on-base percentage (.335) and fourth in wRC+ (108) over that stretch, per FanGraphs.

With Hyers opting not to return to Boston next year, the Red Sox will now have another vacancy to fill on Cora’s 2022 coaching staff after the club parted ways with first base coach and outfield instructor Tom Goodwin last week.

That said, the Sox still expect to retain the rest of their coaching staff going into next season, and that includes assistant hitting coach Peter Fatse.

Fatse, a native of Hampden, Mass., was named Boston’s assistant hitting coach under Hyers at the conclusion of the 2019 season. Together, the two not only oversaw one of the American League’s most potent offenses the last two years, but they also developed a strong working relationship.

On that note, Speier reports that Hyers and the Red Sox had been discussing the idea of elevating Fatse to the role of co-hitting coach, so it should be interesting to see how much consideration the 34-year-old gets from the team to take over for Hyers fully.

UPDATE: The Boston Herald’s Steve Hewitt is reporting that Fatse has indeed been promoted by the Red Sox to become the team’s new hitting coach in place of Hyers.

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

Red Sox Hire Minnesota Twins Minor League Hitting Coordinator and Hampden Native Peter Fatse to Be New Assistant Hitting Coach

The Red Sox have reportedly hired Minnesota Twins minor league hitting coordinator Peter Fatse to be their new assistant hitting coach, according to Zone Coverage’s Brandon Warne. The report was later confirmed by The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier.

Fatse, 32, will take over for Andy Barkett, who was let go shortly after the conclusion of the 2019 season, and serve under hitting coach Tim Hyers.

Originally drafted by the Milwaukee Brewers as an infielder/outfielder out of the University of Connecticut in the 24th round of the 2009 amateur draft, Fatse spent all of two minor league seasons in the Brewers’ system before spending two more playing independent league ball and eventually retiring in 2012.

The Minnechaug High School graduate also has experience in consulting and coaching, and even founded and ran a hitting academy in Palmer, Ma. prior to joining the Twins organization this past January.

There did not appear to be many other names linked to Boston’s search for an assistant hitting coach and now the attention turns to the club’s pursuit of a pitching coach to join Alex Cora’s staff.