The Red Sox announced a series of moves Friday that included the official hiring of Will Venable as the team’s new bench coach and the naming of former Red Sox catcher Jason Varitek as their game planning coordinator, a new position within the organization. It’s the first time Varitek, who was listed as the team’s special assistant to the general manager, has a formal role on the Red Sox’ coaching staff. The primary focus of Varitek’s job centers around working with pitchers and catchers, but he will also be involved in all team aspects. A key quality for Varitek is his ability to merge analytics and feel for the game and communicating the two effectively to players.
The Red Sox also announced their full coaching staff for the 2021 season, including confirming that Venable has been hired as bench coach, Ramon Vazquez was named quality control coach/interpreter and Kevin Walker will be bullpen coach. Vazquez was hired by the Sox in the 2017 offseason. In his first three seasons, he coordinated advanced scouting data.
Five other coaches will remain from the 2020 staff: pitching coach Dave Bush, hitting coach Tim Hyers, assistant hitting coach Peter Fatse, first base coach Tom Goodwin, and third base coach Carlos Febles.
“Now that our coaching staff is set, we’re excited to get to work and dedicate ourselves to getting the most out of our players,” manager Alex Cora said in a statement released by the team.
“Will is a bright, young mind that will add a lot to what is already a strong collection of coaches. I am also pleased that both Jason and Ramon will step forward and play larger roles for us.
“I am thrilled to have so many great baseball minds on our staff and I look forward to their contributions as we set out to achieve our goals.”
Friday also marked the final day for teams to protect players from the Rule 5 draft and the Red Sox added pitchers Bryan Mata, Connor Seabold, Eduard Bazardo, and Jay Groome to their 40-man roster. Catcher Connor Wong and outfielder Jeisson Rosario were also added to the 40-man roster, while lefthanded starter Kyle Hart was outrighted to Triple A Pawtucket and righthanders Matt Hall and Ryan Weber were designated for assignment.
Mata has a strong 6-foot-3-inch, 240-pound frame with electrifying stuff. He ranks as the Sox’ No. 4 prospect and really turned heads around the organization at the team’s alternate site this past summer.
Groome was the Sox’ first-round pick in 2016, but injuries — namely Tommy John surgery — has slowed his progression. Nevertheless, his stuff alone, including a 12-6 curveball when healthy, and progress at the alternate site makes him still an enticing rotation piece for the Red Sox moving forward.
Hall, Weber, and Hart were a part of the Sox’ pitching staff at points last season. Each struggled.
Hart, 27, made his debut in 2020, and compiled a 15.55 ERA in 11 innings. Weber, meanwhile, compiled a 7.11 ERA as a starter, while Matt Hall surrendered 18 earned runs in just 8⅔ innings. The Sox’ roster is now at 40.