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 Held Emotional Team Meeting Before Postponing Game Against Blue Jays on Thursday To Protest Jacob Blake Shooting

In following Jackie Bradley Jr.’s lead to not play their game against the Blue Jays on Thursday, the Red Sox collectively made a statement of utmost significance. That being, ‘Things need to change in the United States.’

Despite how many positive qualities this country has, it has its fair share of negative ones as well. That much has been on full display in the days following the August 23 shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wisconsin.

Blake, a 29-year-old Black male, was shot by police in the back seven times, which according to his father has left him paralyzed from the waist down.

That incident has spurred outrage throughout several professional sports leagues in the United States and has resulted in NBA and NHL playoff games and WNBA, MLS, and Major League Baseball regular season games being postponed as a sign of protest from players.

In the Red Sox’ case, as previously mentioned, Bradley Jr. made the choice to not play on Thursday. As the lone Black player on Boston’s active roster, Bradley Jr., as well as first base coach Tom Goodwin, was fine if the rest of the team played. That did not happen, however, as the contest was eventually called off.

Prior to making that important decision as a group, Red Sox players and staff held a meeting at around 4 p.m. eastern time in the visitor’s clubhouse at Sahlen Field to talk things over. Among the topics that were discussed, Bradley Jr., Goodwin, and assistant athletic trainer Brandon Henry went into detail about what they have had to endure as Black men in the U.S.

“It was emotional,” a choked up Ron Roenicke said of the meeting during a Zoom call with reporters. “I’m listening to Jackie, I got tears in my eyes. I’m listening to Goody, I got tears in my eyes. This is really an important time in our country… These guys have a platform to be able to discuss some things that are serious issues in our country that we need to straighten out.

“We know how important baseball is…but we know the issues in life are more important,” the Sox manager added. “Listening to Goody and Jackie talk, it makes a big difference in our lives and it should make a difference in everybody’s lives. If you’re a kid and you turn on the TV tonight and you don’t see that we’re playing and you ask your parents ‘Why aren’t the Red Sox playing?’ I hope the parents have a serious discussion with their kids and tell them what’s going on. Explain what’s going on, because we need to discuss these things more and we need to listen more. That’s the only way that we’re going to change.”