Tom Szczerbowski-US PRESSWIRE
Long-time bullpen coach Gary Tuck is leaving the organization, opening a hole in John Farrell's coaching staff
According to the Providence Journal's Brian MacPherson, long-time bullpen coach Gary Tuck will be leaving the Red Sox before the 2013 season. Tuck was not only the last holdover on the coaching staff from Bobby Valentine's short-lived tenure, but was also the final coach from Terry Francona's Boston entourage. Tuck was hired back in 2006, when John Farrell was then the pitching coach of the Red Sox, to serve as the bullpen coach, and has remained in that role since.
There is no word as of yet as for why Tuck is leaving -- Farrell retained him on his staff when he took over for Valentine at the end of 2012 -- but the fact he missed time last season for personal reasons might shed some light on the matter. Farrell says that Tuck felt it was time to retire, which would fit into that idea. As MacPherson notes, former Red Sox catcher and current special assistant to the general manager Jason Varitek praises Tuck, while Boston's current catchers (save free agent signing David Ross) are also fans of Tuck's work and catcher programs.
The Red Sox might have a few internal candidates for the position, like roving minor-league catching instructor Chad Epperson. The former catcher was drafted by the Mets back in 1992, and was in the Red Sox minor-league system from 1997 through 1999. After his playing career ended, he became a minor-league manager, for Augusta, Greenville, Wilmington, Lancaster, and then Salem between 2004 and 2009. A promotion to the majors wouldn't be far-fetched given his long-time association with the Red Sox developmentally.
MacPherson also mentions Varitek as a potential bullpen coach, but if the goal is to have him bouncing around the organization in order to assist the development of the likes of Blake Swihart, Christian Vazquez, and Ryan Lavarnway, then the bullpen coach job almost seems a bit limiting. That, of course, is not the same thing as saying it won't happen regardless.
There is also Rich Gedman, the former Red Sox backstop who was hired as the Portland Sea Dogs hitting coach earlier this month. He hasn't been in the organization as a coach as long as Epperson, but he was the hitting coach of the 2011 Lowell Spinners, and last year performed the same duties for the Salem Red Sox, so he isn't brand new in that capacity, either.