fb-pixel Skip to main content

SARASOTA, Fla. — Manager Ron Roenicke always has been amazed by Jerry Narron’s writing on the wall.

It’s a product of patience and skill and is truly a form of art.

“You see his lineup cards?” Roenicke asked prior to Sunday’s 11-5 Grapefruit League loss to the Baltimore Orioles. “It’s incredible.”

Narron writes each of his lineup cards in calligraphy. It’s his shtick. He did it for the first time Sunday for the Sox, bringing a flair into his new role as bench coach. Roenicke attempted to emulate Narron’s style at one point, but it didn’t go as planned.

“It was embarrassing because they started selling these things to people up in the gift shops,” Roenicke explained, “and I was like ‘You got to be kidding me you can’t take this thing and sell it to somebody.’ So, I bought these sharpie calligraphy pens and I could slant it in a way and then write and it was passable. But then you look at Jerry’s and you go ‘Oh my gosh.’ ”

Together, Roenicke and Narron will try to write a fresh script for the Sox this season. The club officially announced the Narron hire Saturday afternoon. Narron is a baseball lifer. He debuted as a player in 1979 with the New York Yankees and as a coach in 1993. Narron and Roenicke have a history together. Narron served as Roenicke’s bench coach for the Milwaukee Brewers from 2011-2015.


“He’s super intelligent,” Roenicke said. “He’s got a really sharp baseball mind. The National League is different from the American League. I know a lot of [AL] managers say the National League isn’t tougher, it is. The National League is tougher to manage through a ball game. When do you double-switch, when do you not double-switch. Jerry was outstanding at that. Better than I am at it.”


And Narron is thrilled to be in his new role in the American League after spending the last 15-plus years in the NL.

“[I’m just looking to be] another set of eyes,” Narron said. “I bring experience. I just want to try to help Ron out and slow the game down for everybody here in the dugout during the games. I want to stay positive with these guys and keep them motivated.”

There’s a learning period, obviously. Assistant coach Ramon Vazquez is helping Narron get acclimated to the new system. That won’t be a problem, though.

Narron is used to change and survival in a game that has pushed out a lot of old-school coaches and managers.

“I’m not afraid of new things and trying new things,” Narron said. “I think some people that have been in the game a while they want to do it the way it used to be done. You see guys who have been around for a while they’re willing to make adjustments.”

Adjustments and change ruled the Sox’ offseason script. On the field, though, Roenicke and Narron are now the lead writers.

Slow start for Mazza

Chris Mazza is vying for a spot on the Sox’ roster. The Sox have a hole in the No. 5 spot of the rotation and are uncertain if they are going to use an opener or a standard starter. Mazza could be an option. Yet his first start Sunday against the Baltimore Orioles wasn’t a convincing one.


Mazza went two innings and allowed a run. He loaded the bases in the first after back-to-back singles and a walk. Mazza got out of it, however, with a strikeout and a double-play ball to end the frame. He issued another walk and single to start out the second and then a groundout plated the first Orioles run.

Chris Mazza got his first start of the spring Sunday against the Orioles.
Chris Mazza got his first start of the spring Sunday against the Orioles.Jim Davis/Globe Staff

It’s the first start of the spring and Mazza will have more chances to make an impression. Roenicke confirmed that he’s one of the guys the Sox will take a hard look at this spring. In Mazza’s case, he can’t afford a slow start. Roenicke drew on his experience as a player.

“When a guy is fighting for a job he needs to be ready to show people as soon as he can,” Roenicke said. “Not on my end, but on the player’s end. I was always going into a camp trying to be one of the 25 guys on the roster. So, I couldn’t afford to start out slowly and then finish out strong because by then they may have already made their decision.”

This is all still fresh for Mazza. The Sox acquired him off waivers from the New York Mets in late December. At the time, he planned on competing for a spot in the bullpen. But once the Sox traded David Price to the Los Angeles Dodgers, that then placed Mazza in the conversation as a potential option at starter.

“I’m just going to go out and still do my job as best I can,” Mazza said after his start. “If I get the spot, I get the spot. If not, we still got a long season. I definitely feel like I’m in the mix. At the end of the day, the best guy is going to get the job and that’s how it should be.”


Valdez claimed

The Sox claimed righthander Sox claim righthander Phillips Valdez off waivers from the Seattle Mariners Sunday. He pitched 16 innings in the majors last season, compiling a 3.94 ERA and striking out 18. Dustin Pedroia (knee) was moved to the 60-day IL. Roenicke described it as not a surprise. The Globe reported prior to spring training that Pedroia experienced a setback. Not wearing his high-tech sleeve on his left elbow, Chris Sale threw a bullpen session to Christian Vazquez for about 10 minutes under the watchful eye of pitching coach Dave Bush . . . Roenicke said the team will sit down with Sale Monday and map out the next steps. Those plans will include another bullpen for Sale. Eduardo Rodriguez (knee) felt good after his bullpen Saturday. He’ll pitch in a simulated game Monday and if all goes well, he’ll fall back into the spring training rotation. Xander Bogaerts (left ankle soreness) is still progressing. He hit in the batting cages. If all went well Sunday, he will hit on the field Monday. Players slated for play against the Minnesota Twins Monday: Nate Eovaldi, Vazquez, Mitch Moreland, Andrew Benintendi, Jackie Bradley Jr., and Kevin Pillar. Slated to go on the trip for the game against the Rays: Rusney Castillo, Michael Chavis, Kevin Plawecki, Tzu-Wei Lin. The annual union meeting is Tuesday in the clubhouse.


Julian McWilliams can be reached at julian.mcwilliams@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter at @byjulianmack.