Nick Friar

DiSarcina takes over Lovullo's role as Red Sox bench coach

DiSarcina takes over Lovullo's role as Red Sox bench coach

With the departure of Torey Lovullo to his own managerial gig with the Arizona Diamondbacks, so went the cloud hanging over John Farrell’s head manifested by fans and media. Or said cloud at least shrunk a bit.

Still, that also left a hole by Farrell’s side as his right hand man and bridge between him and the Red Sox players.

Enter Gary DiSarcina.

The Malden, Mass., native raised in Billerica, Mass., was the Lowell Spinners manager from 2007-2009 and with Pawtucket in 2013 -- the same year he was name the Minor League Manager of the Year by Baseball America. He then left Boston to rejoin the team he played for, the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, to serve as Mike Scioscia’s third base coach.

In DiSarcina’s previous run with Boston, he was able to work with some of the players part of the Red Sox “youth movement” and witnessed their growth from the days he was their skipper.

“I can pinpoint Xander [Bogaerts] for example, [The Angels] played [the Red Sox] in 2014 and he had a rough -- I thought -- some rough actions out there, rough year out there,” DiSarcina said. “You could tell he was working on things and just wasn’t quite comfortable at shortstop. The next two years he’s just really taking off. He’s making plays now.”

DiSarcina mentioned how he spoke to 18-year MLB shortstop Alfredo Griffin -- now the first base coach for the Angels -- and he expressed how Bogaerts is making the “subtle plays”.

“Tough little hops you can take for granted,” DiSarcina said. “But you know as a former infielder that they were difficult hops and plays.”

DiSarcina spent parts of 12 seasons in the bigs, all with the Angels, so he hasn’t experienced being in the first base dugout at Fenway. However, he was a big Boston fan in his youth and even recalls heckling Roger Clemens -- when he was on the Red Sox.

“I understand that it’s a daily passion,” DiSarcina said. “From the writers, the papers, he talk shows and I think you have to embrace it. When players embrace it -- I think of Mike Napoli and Kevin Millar, those guys embraced the town, embraced the people -- [they] didn’t take it personally.

“You can’t take it personally. I think that helps me a little bit, as well as being in the major leagues a player and a coach for 15 years.”

And in case you’re wondering, though the two crossed paths in their playing careers, DiSarcina never told Clemens about the day he heckled him at Fenway Park.

Probably for the best.

Does Craig Kimbrel need to take on a greater role in 2017 Red Sox bullpen?

Does Craig Kimbrel need to take on a greater role in 2017 Red Sox bullpen?

Establishing a bullpen has been Dave Dombrowski’s greatest weakness in building successful teams -- look back at his Detroit Tigers in 2013 if you don’t agree. So, in his first full season in as Red Sox president of baseball operations, he left no room for error and brought in one of the game’s best closers, Craig Kimbrel.

Kimbrel, however, had his share of troubles in his first season with Boston. Walks were an issue (30 in 53 innings, his most since 32 in 77 innings in 2011). Even when he didn’t walk batters, he still went deep into counts, raising his pitch count. Furthermore, he struggled in non-save appearances and in extended save appearances (four or more outs).

And if there are two things the baseball world learned in the 2016 postseason it’s that good relievers can pitch at any point in the game and they can stretch out well past three outs.

Andrew Miller was the big story in the postseason, lifting an ailing Cleveland staff to Game 7 of the World Series -- where he finally ran out of gas. Then there’s Cleveland’s closer, Cody Allen, who was asked to get four or more outs in six of his 10 postseason outings. The Cubs’ Aroldis Chapman did the same in Games 5, 6 and 7 of the World Series.

Sensing a trend?

Boston’s bullpen is built so Kimbrel shouldn’t have to get four or more outs often in the regular season. That’s fine. Help reserve his stamina for the long haul and make him available on back-to-back days frequently. (Perhaps he’ll adjust in his second season with Boston as Rick Porcello did.)

However, if the Red Sox reach the postseason again - if they don’t there needs to be some serious reassessing - then Kimbrel needs extend himself and be available on back-to-back days frequently.

The Red Sox 2017 bullpen will likely be built similarly to the 2015 World Series champion Kansas City Royals, with arms designated for specific innings with the hopes of shortening the game -- a proven business model. With the way Dombrowski built the starting rotation, that could work for Boston.

Still, injuries happen. You need to be prepared with some level of a contingency plan.

Miller’s dominance against Boston, Toronto and the Cubs in the postseason gave managers a new option: have your best reliever enter the to disrupt the flow of the game, instead of shortening it by using multiple relievers. Terry Francona milked Miller in that role and it led to nine of Cleveland’s postseason wins.

Allen’s ability to extend himself in games also played big in Francona’s game plan. In fact, after Corey Kluber’s 34.1 innings, Cleveland’s highest inning totals in the playoffs came from Miller (19.1), righty reliever Bryan Shaw (17.2) and Allen (13.2).

At the ALDS in Boston, Allen told that it’s something he is capable of, as is any other good reliever.

“As long as we’re aware that it could happen, you’re going to prepare yourself,” Cleveland’s closer said. “And as long as you prepare yourself accordingly you’re not going to be caught off guard.”


Red Sox notes: Knowing there really could be no tomorrow for Ortiz


Red Sox notes: Knowing there really could be no tomorrow for Ortiz

BOSTON -- There are multiple schools of thought as to why David Ortiz has been so successful. But one recurring notion seems to be he’s playing like there’s no tomorrow.

Well, now his teammates are in the same scenario, especially if they want to achieve the goal they set in spring training: send David Ortiz out with a win.

“I think we all had to reflect on what took place over in Cleveland,” John Farrell said prior to ALDS Game 3. “I don’t think we played to our capabilities by any means, particularly Game 2. And if there’s a chance to press the reset button, that would be the workout day here when we returned [Saturday], and then the pregame prep that we went through [Sunday].

“But still, our guys are very much aware of what’s in front of us. So it’s all hands on deck, and we move forward.”

It’s clear there’s a sense of urgency with this team -- there has to be with the hole they’ve put themselves in.

In addition to turning to the coaching staff, the team also looks to their leader on the roster, who could play in his final game Monday night. But you wouldn’t know it with the way he’s carried himself.

“I haven’t in any difference,” Rick Porcello said about Ortiz in the last 48 hours. “He’s always the same guy. Talking to him and watching him walk around the clubhouse with a big smile on his face, you’d think we’re two games up. So, I don’t think he’s changed anything or altered his approach or mentally thinking about that sort of stuff.

“He’s a professional. So we’re not expecting to end our season tonight for sure, and I don’t think he is, either.”

Hoping to avoid Miller

After throwing two innings in relief Thursday and warming up shortly Friday, Indians left-hander Andrew Miller has two full days of rest -- more than ample time for him to fully ready himself for Monday’s Game 3.

He’s be marked as one of Cleveland’s difference-makers, if not the difference-maker, and Boston would be wise to jump to an early lead in order to avoid him.

“Well, he’s probably the best left-handed reliever in baseball right now,” Farrell said before Game 3. “I’m sure there are some people in Chicago that might disagree with that, but he’s a tremendous weapon when you’ve got flexibility to use him at any point in the game.

“We know him personally from the time that he spent here, [and] how he’s evolved as a reliever. Hopefully the game doesn’t present itself where he’s on the mound.”

If Miller does find his way to the mound, it may mark the end of The Big Papi Era with the Red Sox.