MINNEAPOLIS, MN:: Randy Niemann #68 and Jarrod Saltalamacchia #39 of the Boston Red Sox visit Jon Lester #31 on the mound after Danny Valencia #22 of the Minnesota Twins hit a two-run home run during the fourth inning at Target Field in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)
With Bob McClure relieved of his duties as Red Sox pitching coach on Monday's off day, it's Randy Niemann who will step into the role in his place. Niemann has been with the Red Sox all season long, but was something of an assistant, secondary pitching coach. One who wasn't allowed in the dugout the last few months due to restrictions on the number of coaches a club could seat in there at once-- the idea of an assistant pitching coach is gaining popularity, but the rules haven't caught up to that yet. With McClure gone, though, his seat on the bench is open, giving Valentine the handpicked pitching coach he never had.
Niemann was drafted by the Yankees back in 1975, a second-round selection in the secondary portion of draft. (Back in the day, the draft was in January, the secondary portion coming in June.) He was traded to the Astros in 1977, and made his major-league debut with Houston two years later. Niemann would pitch for eight years, on five different teams, and in both the NL (six seasons) and the AL (two).
He wasn't a particularly noteworthy pitcher -- not that many pitching coaches ever are -- but his career in coaching has been better, if quiet. Niemann began to work for the Mets in 1989 as a minor-league instructor, and served in that capacity until 1996. He was also the Mets' bullpen coach from 1997 through 1999, and then bounced back-and-forth between the two roles (as well as others, such as rehabilitation pitching coordinator) until finally leaving the Mets organization after the 2011 campaign. Niemann coached at every single level of the minors for the Mets during his tenure there, giving him experience working with both prospects and veterans, and is already familiar with the Red Sox staff given he's been with the club since January.
It's difficult to know just how he'll do as the pitching coach, but the front office believed it was time for a change, given the dismal performance of many of the team's better pitchers. Niemann gets a shot down the stretch to show that Boston has made the right decision by handing him his first pitching coach gig after nearly a quarter-century of coaching.