Red Sox

Gary DiSarcina honored to hear name mentioned as potential manager

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Gary DiSarcina honored to hear name mentioned as potential manager

HOUSTON — The Red Sox on Wednesday said a request has not been made at this point to speak with bench coach Gary DiSarcina about a potential managerial job. NBC Sports on Monday Philadelphia reported DiSarcina as being on “the early list of hot names” for the Phillies gig.

Even if now isn’t the time for DiSarcina, who’s from Billerica, his stock has risen through his first year in Boston (and his first year as a major league bench coach). Were he to depart, it’d be the second straight year the Sox lost a well-liked bench coach. DiSarcina replaced Torey Lovullo before this season.

“It's an honor to have it mentioned,” DiSarcina said, aware of chatter connecting him to the Phillies. “Especially a team like Philadelphia. I’ve known [general manager] Matt Klentak since my time with the Angels, going back five, six years ago.  … You’re still so focused on where you are now. I’m so happy to be here. At the same time, it’s good that other people notice your work and other people notice you and want to talk to you and stuff. 

“It’s hard to really think about [the potential for an interview], because you’re so focused on the Red Sox and getting through this series and moving on, accomplishing our final goal here. But it definitely is exciting, it’s an honor. It’s something if it happens, great, 'cause a lot of times your name comes up in a paper where teams like you, and they want to interview you. But it just doesn’t happen because they find someone else who’s a better fit.”

Sox manager John Farrell fully expects DiSarcina to be on the interview circuit. DiSarcina interviewed to be the Mariners skipper ahead of the 2014 season.

“It’d be great if he has an opportunity,” Farrell said Wednesday. “He’s got a great way to connect with players. He sees the field and the game great. He’s got front office experience to understand what goes into building a roster. Just a really, really good baseball guy.

“I would anticipate with his resume, how he interacts with people, got a great way with people, I would fully expect he would be a candidate.”

DiSarcina appreciates the interview process because of the self-reflection involved. You have to think back on how you got to where you are, and the people who helped and your philosophies.

DiSarcina said coming back to the Sox — he was with the Sox last as Triple-A Pawtucket’s manager in 2013 before joining the Angels — has showed him a different side of Red Sox Nation, one you can’t know unless you’re on the inside.

“The good, the bad, the ugly, and everything in between,” DiSarcina said, noting a newfound appreciation for the American League East's competitiveness. “I had a little flashback when we clinched and we were running [to the field on Saturday]. The coaches kind of walk out there, they don’t run out there. And the guys were jumping up and down on each other, and I had a flashback to our first day of camp and being on the field for the first time and just kind of addressing the team, letting them know what the schedule was that day. 

"Seeing all the same faces, at the beginning of the journey and to accomplish goal No. 1 and step No. 1 with this organization, it’s been — the only word I can come up with — it’s been awesome.”

If a request comes in, when would DiSarcina interview? Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski said if time allows, interviews can be conducted by other teams during the postseason.

“It’s very dependent on where you are, your playoffs,” Dombrowski said. “I’ve allowed guys to talk between series at times. But it really just depends. If you got one day between series, then the answer is, you wait.”

With hellacious slider, Chris Sale is actually getting better

With hellacious slider, Chris Sale is actually getting better

Chris Sale is on more than just a good run. The best pitcher in the American League has actually gotten better.

Sale’s ability to light up the radar gun has been noticeable. He hit triple digits once again in the All-Star Game — now a regular occurrence, although he maxed out at just 99 mph on Sunday. After his third straight Midsummer Classic start, Sale attributed the recent boost in velocity to multiple things, including the Red Sox strength and conditioning staff. As pitching coach Dana LeVangie has said at different points, Sale came into this year with a plan, and is executing it wonderfully.

What stands out beyond the velocity is the slider.

Per Statcast, 46 of the 99 pitches Sale threw on Sunday vs. the Tigers were sliders. He’s using his breaking ball more this year than he ever has in his career as a starter, for good reason. 

The big jump in usage came from 2016 to 2017. But in movement? This season has been tremendous. He’s getting about eight inches of movement on the pitch, up from about 5 inches in 2016 and 5 1/2 inches in 2017, per BrooksBaseball.net's measurements:

That was heading into Sunday. Peek at the Statcast numbers over at BaseballSavant.com, and what do you find: more and more spin on the slider as the years have gone on.

The slider in 2015: an average of 2,206 RPM. The next year, 2,251. In 2017, it was 2,395. This year, 2,478.

In the seven-start stretch leading into Sunday’s start, the number was 2,525. 

How? The Red Sox think part of it has to do with how square Sale’s hand is at the point of release. A better spin axis means more of the spin can translate to movement. Pitchers very often don't maximize their spin.

Sale's vertical release point is also lower overall in 2018: not to a huge degree, but as low it’s been basically since 2013. There's a belief  that finishing his delivery lower, towards his knee rather than his hip, may be helping the extra movement.

At the end of the day, Sale is a phenomenal athlete who thrives on rest that the Sox are fostering and an intense routine. He was already awesome, and with some help from the Red Sox coaches and staff, he’s only making himself better as he marches toward his first Cy Young award.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE

The Baseball Show Podcast: Will the Red Sox make a trade before the deadline?

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The Baseball Show Podcast: Will the Red Sox make a trade before the deadline?

0:23 - Lou Merloni and Evan Drellich discuss Chris Sale's continued dominance as he shuts down the Tigers on Sunday afternoon. Sale now has an incredible 0.27 ERA in his last 5 starts.

4:24 - Will the Red Sox make a trade prior to the deadline? Do they have enough ammo to bring in an impact player? Merloni and Drellich talk about what positions the Red Sox should look to upgrade before July 31st.

9:05 - David Price started off the unofficial 2nd half of the season with 6.1 innings of shutout ball. Is he someone the Red Sox can rely on going forward? Lou and Evan break down what they expect to see from Price.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE