Randy Niemann apologized when asked if he had time to answer a few questions before Tuesday night’s game against the Angels. He was just too busy.
The new pitching coach of the Red Sox had scouting reports to go over and a meeting to conduct. Niemann got the job on Monday afternoon when the Sox fired Bob McClure.
“What he brings is what is needed, a nice stabilizing force,” manager Bobby Valentine said before the Sox were beaten, 5-3.
Niemann spent 24 seasons in the Mets organization in a variety of roles before he joined Valentine’s staff as McClure’s assistant.
Niemann, 56, also was a member of the 1986 Mets, appearing in 31 games. He did not play in the World Series against the Red Sox, however.
“I met with the guys, told them we’re going to go forward, we’re going to work hard, we’re going to do some things a little different with each and every one of them individually,” Niemann said after the game. “But mainly I’m going to be here for them, I’m going to work my tail off to make them better, and hopefully we can turn this thing around down the stretch and have everybody doing what they’re supposed to be doing out there.’’
Niemann worked with injured pitchers for much of this season. He also filled in when McClure left the team for two weeks in June to attend to a sick child. He later subbed for bullpen coach Gary Tuck when he was away for personal reasons.
“He has the common-sense approach to things . . . I think of him as one of this year’s pitching coaches, right from the beginning,” Valentine said. “It’ll be OK for the pitchers, I believe.”
General manager Ben Cherington said McClure was fired based on the poor performance of the pitchers. But McClure and Valentine were never a good fit, either.
The Red Sox hired McClure as a scout and minor league instructor before Valentine was named manager. The two met shortly after for the first time.
“I think three days later we were putting together a list [of potential pitching coaches] and I don’t think he was on the first list,” Valentine said. “Then after we narrowed down the first list, he got on the second list and then he came in and he interviewed with everyone.”
Valentine said he liked McClure’s interview, but other candidates were considered. By then, it was late December and spring training was approaching.
“We were running out of time and he was the best candidate out there that I felt and that Ben felt,” Valentine said. “If that means he was my choice, he was my choice.”
Now Niemann gets his shot.
“I think we’re going to do things a little more on schedule and just try to make things a little easier for those guys to understand maybe, and be able to focus and be able to do what they’re capable of,” he said. “We all know they’re capable of doing a good job out there, it’s just a matter of actually going out and executing it.”
The Red Sox held a pregame ceremony in memory of Johnny Pesky, who died Aug. 13 at the age of 92.
Both teams were on the field for a tribute to Pesky before a moment of silence and the playing of “Taps.” His only child, David, threw out the first pitch to David Ortiz after being accompanied to the mound by Jerry Remy.
A large American flag hung from the wall in left field in recognition of Pesky’s military service in World War II.
The Red Sox all wore No. 6 and the Angels wore a small patch with Pesky’s number on their uniforms.
“Johnny was just a pleasure to be around every time we came in here,” Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. “I’ve only known him since 2000 when I first started managing here and we had some great baseball talks, about a half-hour at a time. He was a true gentleman and a very fitting tribute to a special person.”
The Red Sox cut a No. 6 into the outfield grass behind shortstop, the position Pesky played. There also was a pattern cut into the outfield that resembled the Pesky Pole in right field.
“It was a great honor for me to get to meet him and spend some time,” said Ortiz, who attended Pesky’s funeral Monday. “I have some great memories of him.”
Valentine addressed reports about the poor communication within the coaching staff and front office forthrightly, saying there have been some breakdowns.
“There have probably been a few glitches and coming in I expected them,” he said. “I think someone would be a fool not to. Have I been called a fool yet? I don’t think I’m a fool. There’s always problems getting the word out properly.”
Valentine said the issue was a “work in progress” and felt it had improved in recent weeks.
The Red Sox activated righthanded reliever Vicente Padilla off the 15-day disabled list. He was out exactly 15 days with a groin strain and biceps tendinitis. Padilla threw a scoreless eighth inning. The team also activated Daniel Nava with Carl Crawford going on the DL in advance of his elbow surgery on Thursday. “We’ll miss Carl,” Valentine said. “I’m really happy that Carl got the games in that he got in and I’m really happy that he had the success that he had. I think Carl can now feel that at least he showed the fans in a small way and in an everyday way that he’s a very good player. I think he needed to do that.” Crawford hit .282 with 15 extra-base hits and 19 RBIs over 31 games . . . Ortiz said he could come off the DL “hopefully soon” and that his strained right Achilles’ tendon was feeling better . . . Lefty reliever Rich Hill, who is coming back from an elbow strain, is scheduled to get in back-to-back games for Pawtucket this week. That could clear him to return to the majors . . . Double A outfielder Jackie Bradley Jr., one of the team’s best prospects, was helped off the field Monday night with an ankle injury. But it proved minor and he is day to day . . . Marilyn McCoo and Billy Davis Jr. performed the national anthem.
Correction: In an earlier version, this story mistakenly described Johnny Pesky’s age at the time of his death as 93. He was 92 when he passed.