FORT MYERS, Fla. — The Red Sox said they were keeping it internal, and all signs pointed toward minor league catching coordinator Chad Epperson to replace the retired Gary Tuck as bullpen coach. But the signs were wrong.
The team instead named 43-year-old advance scout Dana Levangie, a native of Whitman, Mass., to the post Tuesday.
Levangie has been the team’s advance scout for the last seven years. A 14th-round pick by the Red Sox in the 1991 draft as a catcher, he was the team’s bullpen catcher from 1997-2004 after his minor league playing career ended at Pawtucket in 1995.
He worked very closely with Jason Varitek over the years and knew Boston’s catchers and pitching staff inside-out.
Levangie will continue to assist in advance scouting work for the team.
“We are extremely pleased to add Dana to the major league staff,” said manager John Farrell. “He has been a valuable asset to the Red Sox in a variety of roles, and his vast knowledge of the major leagues, particularly the American League, will enable him to make an impact on our staff and with our bullpen.”
A graduate of Whitman-Hanson Regional High School, Levangie also attended Cape Cod Community College and American International College and currently lives in East Bridgewater, Mass.
Epperson, the minor league catching coordinator, filled in for Tuck last summer while Tuck took time off to attend to a medical situation in his family. Epperson, who has been a player, and a minor league manager and coach for the Red Sox, will continue as the minor league catching coordinator. He was out working with catchers Tuesday at the Red Sox practice facility.
Bailey faces facts
Deposed closer Andrew Bailey said he completely understands the move the team made to acquire Joel Hanrahan, which bumped him to set-up man.
“I think the move was good,” he said. “It definitely bolsters our bullpen and makes it stronger. I totally understand it. I was hurt last year. I can’t do anything about it. If I had pitched the way I was capable of pitching, that trade doesn’t happen.
“Fact is, I wasn’t on the field and they have to make sure we win. I’m a team guy first. Whatever happens, happens.”
Bailey, 28, thinks the Sox bullpen could be “the best in the AL if not all of baseball.”
Bailey, who had a 7.04 ERA in 19 games upon returning from thumb surgery in mid-August, said, “My mentality hasn’t changed. I have to put up a zero when I come into the game.
“Everyone wants to be a closer. I know my closing days aren’t over and I hope they aren’t over in a Red Sox uniform. I’m not naive to think I’d miss six weeks and have my job waiting for me.
“It’ll be a fun competition. I know he’s been named the closer, but if I’m pitching the way I can, we’re going to have a strong bullpen.”
Bailey said he is not thinking about being traded, though that appears to be a possibility as teams watch him throw in camp.
“I don’t think that enters my mind,” he said. “I think everyone’s goal is to close games. I don’t think my days are done — maybe on hold for a little bit.
“I’m focused on this upcoming season. If a trade happens, it is what it is.”
Farrell revealed that outfielder Alex Hassan of Milton, Mass., will be slowed by a fracture in his left foot. He’s about three weeks into the injury, and it likely will prevent him from working out. Farrell, however, said the team had good outfield depth, with Ryan Sweeney and Daniel Nava as fourth/fifth outfielders . . . Farrell was impressed that so many pitchers showed up to camp early. Jon Lester, Clay Buchholz, John Lackey, Felix Doubront, Franklin Morales, Bailey, Daniel Bard, Andrew Miller, and Craig Breslow were all on hand. “It shows their eagerness,” Farrell said. “The conversation among the group this winter was to get here right after February, and they did just that. Guys came in in good shape. We balanced the extended camp with the WBC [World Baseball Classic] and not trying to get too far ahead of ourselves. But the early reads on guys are very good.”
Men of the World
Farrell said three 40-man roster players will be on WBC rosters: shortstop Xander Bogaerts (Netherlands), outfielder Shane Victorino (US), and reliever Alfredo Aceves (Mexico). Farrell will request that Bogaerts, a prized prospect, be restricted to shortstop, third base, or DH. “We prefer him staying in the infield or DH rather than go to an outfield spot,” said Farrell . . . One thing Farrell is happy with is having so many playing fields at JetBlue Park as opposed to the 1½ fields he had in Dunedin the last two seasons with the Blue Jays.Nick Cafardo can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @nickcafardo.