BOSTON -- Faced with an underperforming pitching staff, the Red Sox announced that Brian Bannister, who last year was given the title of director of pitching analysis and development, will join the club in uniform on the road and at home, to give the organization's pitchers another resource.
Since MLB rules limit the number of coaches and assistants who can be in uniform during games, Bannister will not be in the dugout once the games begin. He will watch games either from the clubhouse or in scouts' seats behind home plate.
The move is effective immediately and will be in place through the end of the season, at which point the Red Sox will re-evaluate their set-up.
"Brian's done an outstanding job in many different areas,'' said president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski. "We felt at this point, our major focus should be on our major league pitching staff and trying to help it in any way we possibly can. He's worked closely with supplying information to [manager] John Farrell and [pitching coach] Carl Willis throughout the season and now that the draft is over, his responsibilities are done of course and we thought it would be much more helpful to put him in uniform.
"The players in today's game want the type of information he supplies -- statistical, medical, arm angles. So we thought it best to (have him in uniform).''
Dombrowski maintained that this was not seen as any sort of indictment of Willis, who replaced Juan Nieves 14 months ago. The Sox have the fourth-best record in the American League, but heading into Tuesday's action, were ranked 11th of the 15 A.L. teams in staff ERA at 4.48.
"It's not that we're unhappy,'' said Dombrowski. "But we're looking for any way to make ourselves better. There's a lot of work to be done and we think maybe this will give us a little bit of edge and help us.
"I think it's important he works closely with Carl. Carl's got a lot on his plate, as any coach does. Let's face it, our pitching has scuffled at times and we're trying to do anything we can to help it. I think when you're scuffling more, there's even more on your plate because you're working with a lot of different people on a lot of different things. I think he can be helpful in many regards.''
Dombrowski further pointed out that the notion of an assistant pitching coach of sorts is no different than the change that took place seven or eight years ago when teams began adding second hitting instructors.
(The Red Sox currently employ Victor Rodriguez as an assistant to primary hitting coach Chili Davis).
Bannister, who pitched for several seasons in the big leagues and is the son of former major league pitcher Floyd Bannister, has been acclaimed for his work regarding analytics, video and biomechanics.
"It's basically an open book to work with Carl,'' said Dombrowski, "and being in uniform, there's (an opportunity for) more of a dialogue with players, too.''
"We've got a number of pitchers here who ask for the objective data that [Bannister] generates,'' said John Farrell. "And rather than having that be indirect, his ability to be with us each and every day to assess from a Pitch F/X standpoint (it's better) to have him be around and [available] more frequently.''
The reliance on analytics is constantly evolving, Dombrowski said, and this move is reflective of that.
"He has some very interesting information about arm angles,'' said Dombrowski. "Somebody may say, 'This is my best pitch' and he can clearly show that it's not the pitcher's best pitch. He has a good way of presenting [information]. He's very analytical, he works hard, he's a good person and he has the pulse of having been in a big-league clubhouse.''