Red Sox Sunday notes: Dana LeVangie promoted to interim bench coach, Bob Kipper to bullpen, 'finely tuned' Hanley Ramirez progressing

Mike Petraglia
August 16, 2015 - 8:41 am
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It's only appropriate the Red Sox are going to the bullpen to find relief for interim manager Torey Lovullo. The Red Sox, through Lovullo, announced Sunday morning that longtime bullpen coach Dana LeVangie would be promoted Lovullo's bench coach in the dugout. Accordingly, Lovullo also announced that Pawtucket pitching coach Bob Kipper will leave Triple-A and come to Boston to take over for LeVangie. Those moves will take effect Monday in the series opener against the Indians. "A lot of moving parts there," Lovullo said. "We wanted to stay internal. We know that these two guys know baseball on a really good level, especially from within our system, and I think the fit is going to be really special. "There's a lot happening in the dugout. I know it's hard for people to understand what's going on. From my point of view, there's three or four different areas that I've got to run into, to have that bench coach there to challenge some of my thoughts, to endorse some of my thoughts is going to be nice to have, especially given Dana's background. There's immediate trust. There's a guy that's respected in this game and being able to bounce off some thoughts, it's going to be invaluable to me." But there's an even bigger aspect to LeVangie moving from the bullpen to the dugout for the rest of the season. "The second part of that is he's our catching instructor," Lovullo said. "We've got a young catcher in Blake Swihart behind the plate. He's going to get a little bit closer to the action. He's going to be able to have interactions with Blake and Ryan Hanigan in between innings, and there's a lot of value to that as well." "We'll announce it today but there are a lot of moving parts. We're having to pull some guys from different areas and we don't want to leave Pawtucket empty-handed. We have to figure out who's going to fill in for Kip so that [move] will start [Monday]. LeVangie has had a significant and successful role in the Red Sox organization. As an advance scout, LeVangie was assigned to follow the Los Angeles Angels in anticipation of the postseason, and eventually saw the Colorado Rockies as well. During Game 2 of the 2007 World Series, Red Sox bench coach Brad Mills, armed with information from LeVangie and the scouting staff, correctly predicted Matt Holliday would attempt to steal on Jonathan Papelbon's first pitch with two outs in the eighth inning and the Rockies down by a run. Mills called for a pickoff, and Papelbon, who had not picked off a runner in his big league career, picked off Holliday easily. It was the biggest play in Boston's 2-1 win in Game 2. When Gary Tuck resigned as Boston's bullpen coach prior to the 2013 season, LeVangie was named his successor and earned a third World Series ring when Boston won the 2013 World Series. Meanwhile, Lovullo provided injury updates on Hanley Ramirez (left foot) and Pablo Sandoval (right elbow) before Sunday's game with Seattle. "Hanley is doing OK," Lovullo said of Ramirez, who fouled a ball off his foot on Friday against Seattle. "He's improving every day, getting closer. He's such a finely tuned athlete. I think that they types of bodies we're dealing with here. When something is a little off, it takes a little time to make sure everything is OK before he gets back in there. "He's going to run through a series of tests today indoors, much like he did [Saturday]. We're looking to get him outdoors [Monday], test it a little bit more and see where he's at. It's getting closer and we feel comfortable in saying his return could be close." The Red Sox managed to score 22 runs Saturday with Ramirez out of the lineup and unavailable. Sandoval injured his elbow when Felix Hernandez drilled him with a pitch in the bottom of the third. He stayed in and scored on Alejandro De Aza's home run but left after the third inning. "Pablo came in today a little cranky with that elbow," Lovullo said. "Everything was negative yesterday. All the tests that were done [were] negative so he's OK but I think he's a little swollen, and we took it out of his hands. We just thought here's a guy that got hit pretty good and is dealing with a little bit of discomfort so instead of forcing him to get out there, we just said, 'take the day today,' and we'll see where we're at tomorrow." The Red Sox are down to 23 active players, and just three position players, catcher Ryan Hanigan, outfielder Alejandro De Aza and infielder Garin Cecchini. The Red Sox will start Matt Barnes on Monday against the Indians. Barnes, who will be called up on Monday from Triple-A Pawtucket, has been stretched out, starting his last two appearances for the PawSox. He is 0-1 in the two starts, allowing five runs, 11 hits in eight total innings, walking six and striking out seven. "He's been starting," Lovullo said. "He's been up to 90 pitches and we're going to go full-throttle with him. We're going hopefully get 95, 100 pitches out of him. He has a proven track record as a starter. This isn't going to be unchartered waters for him. We know he can get out there and go as long and hard as he possibly can." As for Rick Porcello, he started Saturday's suspended game in Lowell against Tri-City in a rehab start. He's been trying to strengthen his triceps since heading on the disabled list on Aug. 2. "Threw the ball really well. In my conversation with Rick, he was really pleased with how the ball was coming out of his hand," Lovullo said. "It was a little bit rain-shortened, unfortunately. He was supposed to go four [innings] and 65 [pitches]. He didn't get quite to complete that fourth inning and didn't get to 65 pitches unfortunately. But the up-downs are what mattered. He got up four times. Just talking to him, he was really excited about how he felt with no limitations and the results. Not necessarily the hits and the amount of strikes. We know what he's capable of doing. We're talking about internally how he felt. Everything checked out just fine. "I'm not sure at this point. I think what we're going to do is get a feel for how he's doing today and piece it together from there. It's the day after his start. I think we want to get him back on his feet, see how he's doing, see how he's feeling and coordinate from there."
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