Results tagged ‘ Rich Sauveur ’
While filling out my scorebook last night in the broadcast booth in Louisville, I was listening to the Red Sox game when Junichi Tazawa took the mound for the fifth time since being recalled from Pawtucket.
I heard all three scoreless innings the right-hander pitched and wasn’t shocked when I heard Joe Castiglione say, with surprise in his voice, that Tazawa hit 95 mph on the Fenway radar gun. While we had seen him sit around 91-92 during Aril and May, Tazawa’s fastball climbed to 93-94 while touching 95 in his final outings with the PawSox.
“To tell you the truth, I’m not sure what exactly is the reason,” Pawtucket pitching coach Rich Sauveur told me from his clubhouse office Monday. “If I were to guess the reason for his increased velocity, I’d have to say it’s a because of his new confidence.”
Last year, Tazawa was throwing between 89-90 mph without giving up many hits. This season however, the righty was throwing 91-92 in the early months, yet was surrendering more hits than when he had less velocity.
“I sat down with him and told him to stop worrying about giving up hits. Just go out there and pitch,” Sauveur said. “Since then, not only has he pitched better, but his velocity has gone up even more.”
As the PawSox pitching coach was quick to point out, it’s important to remember that Tazawa is coming off major surgery (Tommy John) and there’s a certain physical and mental adjustment period that follows.
“It all comes down to Junichi being able to trust his arm more. You can tell that he’s not worried about anything else now when he’s out there.”
After taking over as Houston’s closer in May of last year, Mark Melancon was the only Major League pitcher at the end of the season to record at least eight wins and 20 saves. To bolster their bullpen, the Red Sox traded infielder Jed Lowrie and right-hander Kyle Weiland for the hard-throwing righty on December 14.
The season did not begin well for Melancon in Boston. He gave up 11 runs in two innings pitched before being sent to Pawtucket. However, since joining the PawSox, Melancon has refined his pitching and is flat out dominating batters throughout the International League.
“He’s doing what he came down here to do,” said pitching coach, Rich Sauveur. “He’s locating the fastball better, keeping it down more. He’s mixing his pitches better and he’s challenging batters inside.”
As Sauveur later told me, locating his fastball and pitching inside where the top two priorities for Melancon when he was sent down.
“I’ve always pitched inside throughout my career and I got away from that early on this year,” said Melancon. “It’s a mindset, you have to be agressive. There’s definitely a strategic plan that goes along with it.”
A third reason why the righty has had such success is the refinement of his curveball. It was a comment from the PawSox bullpen catcher that clicked with Melancon and has helped him improve what is no doubt a plus-pitch. “He told me it was just hanging there a little too long,” Melancon said.
“I’ve had that problem before, it’s always been a pitch that I’ve thrown very hard.” How did Melancon fix the problem? “It required somewhat of a mindset. [Now] I make sure that I finish it. By doing that you get that extra rotation on it.”
“Mark already had a Major League curveball,” Sauveur remarked. “It’s just what while he’s been down here it has gotten that much better because it breaks a lot later.”
“Everything he’s done in his last five or six outings is everything we’ve asked for. Mark is dominating these hitters now – it’s not fair to them.”
On a rainy afternoon in Norfolk yesterday, Melancon finally surrendered his first walk and run of the season and now has to settle for a 0.64 ERA (1 ER/14.0 IP). Although he’s looking like he belongs in the Boston, the Red Sox don’t have much room in a bullpen that has come together. For the time being, the PawSox will take him as long as they can.
Less than an hour after Aaron Cook’s seven-inning complete game Saturday afternoon at McCoy Stadium, Boston sports talk radio was already brainstorming about how the right-hander could be used in Boston’s rotation.
In his first professional start outside of a Rockies’ affiliated uniform, Cook handcuffed the Lehigh Valley IronPigs to just one unearned run on five hits while walking two and striking out four.
“I really had my sinker working well early in the game, and later in the game I was actually able to use my slider really well, and that’s something I hadn’t really used all spring,” Aaron told me. ”I feel like my arm strength is starting to come around … I was able to use [both pitches] consistently and I felt really good about it.”
Pawtucket pitching coach Rich Sauveur told me that he was impressed with what he saw from Cook. “His composure was great and he has the knowhow – that’s why he’s done what he’s done for so many years. He’s a Big League pitcher, no doubt about it.”
Sauveur said that Cook has been a pleasure to work with and that he was very open with him from the first day. “Aaron told me about some [mechanical] bad habits he has up on the mound and told me not to let him get away with them. Because he’s so approachable, it opens the door for me to help with whatever he needs. He’s a Major League guy both on the field and off.”
As a 10-year Major League veteran and the all-time winningest pitcher in Rockies’ history, it would be easy for Cook to come to Pawtucket and do things “his way.” However, Cook is open to help in order to get back to the Bigs. “The biggest thing is being open and not being close-minded. If you ever get to the point where you think you know it all and can’t learn anything else, it’s probably time to quit. I’m always looking for something from somebody.”
I’ve interviewed Aaron twice, and after both conversations I get the feeling that he is as humble as he is eager to pitch for Boston. There’s no questioning the early woes the Red Sox have had on the mound, which makes Aaron even more valuable. Not to mention the fact that he can opt out of his contract on May 1, there may not be many more starts from Cook here in Pawtucket.
Over the weekend the Boston Red Sox formally announced their 2012 minor league coaching staff. The Sox have added three new individuals for assignment in the 2012 field staff alignment, most notably Gerald Perry as the hitting coach here in Pawtucket.
Perry, the Oakland A’s hitting coach in 2011, was not resigned at the end of the season and was thus on the open market. Who did Oakland replace him with? 2011 PawSox hitting coach, Chili Davis. Who replaces Davis in Pawtucket? Gerald Perry, of course.
And around and around we go.
The new job for Davis reunites him with former San Francisco Giants teammate, and current Oakland manager, Bob Melvin. A three-time All-Star, Davis had a career batting average of .274, while belting 350 home runs and batted in 1,372 runs. Despite a 19-year major league career, the Jamaican-born 52-year-old is relatively inexperienced as a coach:
2003-04: Australian National Team Hitting Coach
2010: Dodgers’ Instructional League Hitting Coach
2011: PawSox Hitting Coach
Perry is a familiar face around McCoy Stadium, previously spending four seasons in the Boston organization as a minor league hitting coach with Single-A Michigan (1997) and Pawtucket (1998 and 2010), and was the club’s minor league hitting coordinator in 1999.
Perry enters his 29th season in professional baseball after being selected by the Atlanta Braves in the 11th Round of the 1978 draft. A 13-year major leaguer and 1988 National League All-Star, Perry’s career was spent predominately at first base. The video above is Perry with our very own Steve Hyder at Media Day in 2010. Below is the complete minor league field staff list for this upcoming season. -AG
Pawtucket (Triple-A, International League)
Manager: Arnie Beyeler
Pitching Coach: Rich Sauveur
Hitting Coach: Gerald Perry
Athletic Trainer: Jon Jochim
Portland (Double-A, Eastern League)
Manager: Kevin Boles
Pitching Coach: Bob Kipper
Hitting Coach: Dave Joppie
Athletic Trainer: Brandon Henry - Begins his first year with Portland after spending the last two seasons as athletic trainer for Salem. He enters his sixth season with the organization having also served as athletic trainer for Greenville (2009) and Lowell (2008-07).
Salem (High-A, Carolina League)
Manager: Billy McMillon - Will serve as Salem’s manager after skippering at Greenville from 2010-11. He led the Drive to the South Atlantic League Championship Series in his 2010 managerial debut.
Pitching Coach: Kevin Walker
Hitting Coach: Rich Gedman - Joins Salem after serving last season as hitting coach for Lowell in his first coaching position in affiliated ball.
Athletic Trainer: David Herrera - Moves to Salem from Greenville, where he was the Drive’s athletic trainer from 2010-11. He also held that position for Lowell (2009) and the GCL Red Sox (2008).
Greenville (Single-A, South Atlantic League)
Manager: Carlos Febles - Moves to Greenville after making his managerial debut with Lowell in 2011. He was Salem’s hitting coach from 2009-10 and held the same role for Single-A Lancaster in 2008.
Pitching Coach: Dick Such
Hitting Coach: Darren Fenster – Joins Greenville in his affiliated coaching debut after spending six seasons on the Rutgers University baseball staff, including three as an assistant coach (2009-11). He also served as an assistant coach for the Cape Cod Baseball League’s Orleans Cardinals in 2008. Selected by Kansas City in the 12th round of the 2000 First-Year Player Draft, Fenster spent five seasons in the Royals minor league system and was named a Carolina League All-Star in 2002 and 2004.
Athletic Trainer: Mauricio Elizondo - Enters his fifth season in the Red Sox organization and his first as athletic trainer with Greenville. He previously served as athletic trainer for Lowell (2010-11) after joining the system as an intern with the GCL Red Sox (2008-09).
Lowell (Short-A, New York-Penn League)
Manager: Bruce Crabbe - Returns to Lowell after serving as Salem’s manager in 2011. This will be his third season at the helm of the Spinners (also 2006 and 2010).
Pitching Coach: Paul Abbott
Hitting Coach: Nelson Paulino - Joins Lowell as hitting coach after serving in the same capacity for the Dominican Summer League Red Sox over five seasons from 2001-02 and 2008-11.
Athletic Trainer: TBA
Gulf Coast (Rookie, Gulf Coast League)
Manager: George Lombard
Pitching Coach: Goose Gregson
Pitching Coach: Walter Miranda
Coach: Dave Tomlin
Hitting Coach: U.L. Washington
Coach: Noah Hall - Makes his coaching debut after playing parts of 13 seasons as an outfielder in affiliated minor league baseball from 1996-2009. He also played parts of five seasons in independent leagues (2001, 2007 and 2009-11).