Boston replaces their retiring bullpen coach with a long-time Red Sox player and coach
Gary Tuck, Boston's bullpen coach since 2006, retired seemingly out of nowhere recently, with just a couple of weeks to go before the start of spring training. Because of this, the Red Sox needed to find a replacement quickly, but they had plenty of internal options to mull over, making it a simpler process than for some of the other coaching vacancies that needed to be filled.
The Sox selected one of these internal candidates, making advance scout Dana Levangie the newest bullpen coach, and in the process creating an entirely new coaching staff for new manager John Farrell. Tuck was not only the last holdover from Bobby Valentine's short-lived reign, but also the last of the Terry Francona's coaches remaining.
Levangie has been involved in professional baseball since 1991, when the Red Sox drafted him in the 14th round out of American International University in Springfield, MA, where Levangie was named the first All-American player in that school's history. Levangie hit .410 in his collegiate career (and .462 with 13 homers in his senior year), and helped lead his Division II school to the College World Series for, like his All-American honoring, the first time in their history. Levangie was the second backstop of four selected by Boston in the draft, as Scott Hatteberg was picked with the third of three first-rounders at #43 overall.
Levangie started his professional career in short-season Elmira that same year. He would spend all six of his seasons as a player in the Red Sox organization, with all but two of his 351 games coming behind the plate. He became the team's bullpen catcher in 1997 once his playing career ended -- oddly enough, in Hatteberg's first full season in the majors behind the plate -- and stuck in that role through the 2004 season. Since then, he's been an advance scout for the Red Sox. According to reports, Levangie will remain in that role in addition to that of bullpen coach.
One hopes that the combination of Levangie and David Ross helps Jarrod Saltalamacchia become a better defensive catcher, as the decision to retain him after 2013 would be made much easier from Boston's point of view should he improve further in that important part of his game. The 2012 season, one free of Tim Wakefield, was a start, but more can be done. And, if not Salty, then there is a certain Ryan Lavarnway down in Pawtucket who could likely use the instruction this spring, and possibly later in the season, so it's good the Red Sox brought in someone who has an extensive knowledge of the position, and on such short notice.