The Red Sox were sorry to lose Chili Davis as their Triple A hitting coach in 2011, but with Dave Magadan entrenched on the big league staff, they understood his decision to join the Oakland Athletics.
Now Davis has returned to the Sox, agreeing on Sunday to become their third hitting coach in four years.
The team made no announcement on Sunday, but major league sources said Davis was their choice to replace Greg Colbrunn, who stepped down after the season.
The Red Sox formally interviewed at least three other candidates: Double A Portland hitting coach Rich Gedman, minor league hitting coordinator Tim Hyers, and Los Angeles Angels minor league hitting coordinator Paul Sorrento.
Davis also was interviewed by the Yankees and had interest from the Texas Rangers. Oakland also hoped to keep him.
In Oakland, Davis worked without an assistant. But the Red Sox have said they plan to retain that position on their staff. Victor Rodriguez was the assistant for the last two seasons with Colbrunn.
If Rodriguez does not return to that job, Gedman and Hyers could be candidates. Or Davis could get the latitude to suggest somebody with whom he is more familiar.
Davis, who turns 55 in January, played 19 seasons in the majors with five teams before retiring in 1999. The three-time All-Star was a career .274 hitter with 350 home runs. Davis, a switch-hitter, played for three World Series winners: the 1991 Twins and the 1998-99 Yankees.
Davis played with Red Sox manager John Farrell with the Angels from 1993-94.
Davis started his coaching career in 2003 with the Australian national team. The Dodgers hired him as a part-time instructor in 2010 before he spent 2011 in the Red Sox organization.
Oakland was third in the American League in runs this season with 729 but was actually below the league average with a .700 OPS thanks to a late-season slump. The Athletics hit .225 over the final two months of the season and averaged 3.5 runs.
The Red Sox were tied for 13th in the AL with a .684 OPS this season and tied for 11th in runs.
Red Sox bench coach Torey Lovullo remains a candidate to become manager of the Minnesota Twins. Beyond the possibility of his leaving, the Sox are not expected to make any other changes to their staff.