Red Sox

Red Sox pitching coach Dana LeVangie a local success story

boston-red-sox-dana-levangie-110817.jpg

Red Sox pitching coach Dana LeVangie a local success story

BOSTON — Their pitching coach was under their nose the whole time.

The Red Sox announced on Nov. 2 that Dana LeVangie would reprise his role as bullpen coach in 2018 under new manager Alex Cora. Six days later, LeVangie — the bullpen coach for five years under former John Farrell — has been elevated to pitching coach, replacing Carl Willis.

The 48-year-old LeVangie drew interest from other organizations this winter and could wind up a bench coach and then a manager someday. So far, he’s only known one organization: the 2018 season will be his 28th with the Sox.

MORE: Cora plans to walk fine line between friendship and authority

Cora had no desire to let LeVangie go anywhere else, either.

"Very impressed with Dana since when I played here," Cora said Wednesday. "He understands the game. Seems like we talk the same language as far as the game. When everyone started talking about me being a manager, he was a guy I always considered would be part of my staff. He is well prepared and versatile enough that he can work with catchers and be a pitching coach."

Born in Brockton and currently an East Bridgewater resident, LeVangie has stayed in the area the whole time. He went to college first at Cape Cod Community before transferring to American International. 

The Sox drafted LeVangie in the 14th round in 1991. He played in the Sox system for six years, reaching as high as Triple-A. From 1997-2004 he was the Sox' major league bullpen catcher. Then he was a pro scout for a year, and a major league advance scout for seven, through 2012.

“I guess being a local kid, being a Red Sox fan growing up, having a not-so-successful high school career but [being] more successful in my college days, getting drafted by the Boston Red Sox, playing six years in the minor leagues, going into my 28th year — it’s been an incredible ride,” LeVangie said. “I’ve done a lot of things for the team. I’ve enjoyed every role I’ve served in. 

“This is something I didn't envision myself doing. But I think my experience throughout the game, experience dealing with the players has grown throughout my time and I guess more than anything my commitment to the players, my commitment to the pitchers just continues to drive me to be the best [person i can to put these pitchers and players in position to have success. It keeps going forward and I’m just happy for the opportunity.”

What makes LeVangie a rarity is his catching background. Most pitching coaches were, well, pitchers.

LeVangie might not have learned more at any other time in his career than when he was the bullpen catcher. 

“It allowed me to really lock in on mechanics, movement of the baseball, spin of the baseball, identifying specifics of a pitcher’s strengths and weaknesses,” LeVangie said. “And trying to identify what makes a pitcher have success and continued success. So, I think back in the day I started to learn that. I’ll continue to learn more as we go forward, but, you know, I’ve learned a lot from Jason [Varitek] throughout the days of my time here, communicating with him. But you know I think our, as baseball coaches as baseball people, we use our eyes. The eyes usually tell us a lot of the things we want to know and our eyes will tell us a lot of the information that’s out now: spin rates and movement and how we can make these guys successful. So I don’t think it’s going to be a big adjustment, but it’s something I’ve worked hard at: trying to identify things sooner rather than later. So it will be an easier adjustment for me.”

Cora said the Sox are considering internal and external candidates to fill the bullpen coach vacancy, the lone one remaining on the staff. 

Brian Bannister remains in the organization, but Cora did not specify whether Bannister will be in uniform again next year. Bannister's most recent title was dual: vice President of pitching development and assistant pitching coach. He's a pitch data expert as well as an ex-big leaguer.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE

MLB will institute rules to pick up pace, with or without players' agreement

mlb_rob_manfred_081414.jpg

MLB will institute rules to pick up pace, with or without players' agreement

ORLANDO, Fla. -- Major League Baseball will change rules to speed games next year with or without an agreement with the players' association.

Management proposed last offseason to institute a 20-second pitch clock, allow one trip to the mound by a catcher per pitcher each inning and raise the bottom of the strike zone from just beneath the kneecap to its pre-1996 level at the top of the kneecap. The union didn't agree, and clubs have the right to impose those changes unilaterally for 2018.

Players and MLB have held initial bargaining since summer, and MLB chief legal officer Dan Halem said this week he would like an agreement by mid-January.

"My preferred path is a negotiated agreement with the players, but if we can't get an agreement we are going to have rule changes in 2018 one way or the other," baseball commissioner Rob Manfred said Thursday after a quarterly owners' meeting.

Nine-inning games averaged a record 3 hours, 5 minutes during the regular season and 3:29 during the postseason.

Corey Kluber beats Chris Sale for American League Cy Young

cy_young_corey_kluber_chris_sale_111517.jpg

Corey Kluber beats Chris Sale for American League Cy Young

Max Scherzer heard his name and thrust his arms in the air, shouting and smiling big before turning to kiss his wife.

Corey Kluber, on the other hand, gulped once and blinked.

Two aces, two different styles - and now another Cy Young Award for each.

The animated Scherzer of the Washington Nationals coasted to his third Cy Young, winning Wednesday for the second straight year in the National League. He breezed past Los Angeles Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw, drawing 27 of the 30 first-place votes in balloting by members of the Baseball Writers' Association of America.

Kluber's win was even more of a runaway. The Cleveland Indians ace took 28 first-place votes, easily outpacing Chris Sale of the Boston Red Sox for his second AL Cy Young.

Scherzer yelled "yes!" when his award was announced on MLB Network, a reaction in keeping with his expressive reputation. He showed that intensity often this year, whether he was cursing under his breath like a madman during his delivery or demanding - also with expletives - that manager Dusty Baker leave him in the game.

Just a little different than the pitcher they call "Klubot." Kluber was stoic as ever when announced as the AL winner. He swallowed hard but otherwise didn't react, only showing the hint of a smile moments later when answering questions.

Not that he wasn't thrilled.

"Winning a second one maybe, for me personally, kind of validates the first one," Kluber said.

Scherzer's win moves him into rare company. He's the 10th pitcher with at least three Cy Youngs, and among the other nine, only Kershaw and Roger Clemens aren't in the Hall of Fame.

"That's why I'm drinking a lot of champagne tonight," Scherzer said.

Scherzer earned the NL honor last year with Washington and the 2013 American League prize with Detroit.

"This one is special," he said. "When you start talking about winning three times, I can't even comprehend it at this point."

Scherzer was 16-6 with a career-best 2.51 ERA this year. The 33-year-old righty struck out a league-leading 268 for the NL East champion Nationals, and in an era noted for declining pitcher durability, he eclipsed 200 innings for the fifth straight season. He had to overcome a variety of ailments to get there, and Washington's training staff was high on his thank-you list.

"Everybody had a role in keeping me out on the field," he said. "I'm very thankful for all their hard work."

Kershaw has won three NL Cy Youngs and was the last pitcher to win back-to-back. He was 18-4 with a league-best 2.31 ERA and 202 strikeouts. This is his second runner-up finish. Stephen Strasburg of the Nationals finished third.

Kluber missed a month of the season with back pain and still easily won the AL award over Sale and third-place finisher Luis Severino of the New York Yankees. Kluber led the majors with a 2.25 ERA, and his 18 wins tied for the most in baseball. He added to the Cy Young he won with the Indians in 2014 and is the 19th pitcher to win multiple times.

The 31-year-old Kluber was especially dominant down the stretch, closing out the season by going 11-1 to help Cleveland win the AL Central. He and Minnesota's Ervin Santana tied for the major league lead with five complete games - nobody else had more than two. Kluber also led the majors with 8.0 wins above replacement, per baseball-reference.com.

Kluber and Scherzer both had rough outings in the playoffs. Kluber gave up nine runs over two starts in an AL Division Series against the Yankees, and Scherzer blew a save in the decisive Game 5 of an NL Division Series against the Cubs.

Scherzer said he couldn't even watch the League Championship Series, although he did tune in for the World Series.

"That will eat at me this whole offseason," he said.

Voting for the awards was completed before the postseason began.

The final BBWAA honors will come Thursday when the MVP awards are announced in the AL and NL.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE