At the end of his time with the Blue Jays, new manager John Farrell dropped hints as to what he might favor in a pitching and hitting coach -- or hitting coaches.
Farrell has long employed the use of biomechanics analysis with pitchers. One of the four candidates for pitching coach the team is known to have interviewed, the Orioles' Rick Peterson, happens to be a biomechanics guru. That could be a contributing factor.
"When in Cleveland, I [used biomechanic analysis] for four straight years," Farrell said in September at Fenway Park, while he was still with the Blue Jays. "So yeah, it's another tool for evaluation. It's not a cure-all, and we had discussions recently internally [with Toronto] about looking to incorporate that more than it's been."
The Blue Jays weren't huge on biomechanics analysis, Farrell said. "I can't that say that [in] previous years there's been any usage of that tool."
The Red Sox believe in those techniques enough, though, that they're able to do some analyses in-house already.
"We've done it -- we've done it both externally and internally," general manager Ben Cherington said on Monday. "We've sent guys to the Andrews [Institute], for example, over the years. We've done some things internally, too, with our own equipment and technology, probably a little bit more on the pitching side than the hitting side, but yeah, that's something we've done."
Dr. James Andrews, the famed surgeon, and Peterson have long collaborated and worked as business partners. Of course, hooking up a pitcher to a machine and getting a readout's not a complete solution. But Farrell believes that knowing how to analyze that information is helpful.
"Ultimately, the bottom line is, when you get the information, how do you use it?" Farrell said. "That's the biggest key, because in and of itself, it can be useless if it's not interpreted correctly and ultimately applied at the field level."
Farrell noted that using biomechanics isn't exactly new any more, it just depends on an organization's philosophy.
"It's been going on quite a while," he said. "Depends upon how forward-thinking organizations want to get and what nontraditional methods they want to incorporate. ... Sometimes people might fear the unknown or not be fully understanding of what it can do. And they shy away from it. But it can be very useful when used in the right setting.
"The thing that you have to be really careful of, if you go to have this evaluation done and there are some red flags that are determined or identified, if you look to make delivery changes, does it take away the effectiveness of the pitcher? That's a catch-22. You may pitch longer, but you may pitch in Double-A for the rest of your life."
During his time in Toronto, Farrell also considered adopting a growing trend: having not one but two hitting coaches. Even if the Red Sox don't go in that direction this year, Farrell could be inclined to do so in the future.
"Yes, even before you finish it, yes," Farrell said when asked in September if that were possible. "You know we talk about it internally, we talked about how the structure would work, the fact -- if this were to play out -- [that] the people involved have a rapport, they have a relationship already from the Major Leagues to the Triple-A staff, Spring Training involvement and the familiarity with one another. That's paramount, because the message can't be conflicting, and yet everybody has individual strengths."
The thought that Toronto's Triple-A hitting coach, Chad Mottola, could be paired with big league hitting coach Dwayne Murphy came up in 2011 and 2012. The Royals adopted a two-coach system this season, following in the footsteps of such teams as the Cardinals.
It's a matter of making the workload manageable, and sometimes a matter of having a message communicated differently.
"Let's face it, even we see on the pitching side: Certain guys will hear ... the same message as described by two different people, and it may click because the way one person says it toward the other," Farrell said. "This isn't to be pointing the finger at anyone saying they're not doing well, it's, how do you provide the best resources for players to be consistent?"
Cherington said that a pitching coach would not be official before he gets on a plane on Tuesday morning for the General Managers Meetings in Palm Springs, Calif. But it shouldn't be long.
Marlins pitching coach Randy St. Claire, Royals special assistant Steve Foster and White Sox bullpen coach Juan Nieves have also interviewed for the job.
Then comes the interview for hitting coach. There's already a list of candidates.
"We want to get the pitching coach position filled first," Cherington said on Monday at Fenway Park after David Ortiz's news conference. "We've got some names in mind for hitting coach, and then, I think, the rest of the staff -- once those two positions are in place -- I think the rest of the staff will come together more quickly. And we haven't ruled out having someone from last year's staff on the staff."
A deadline for an option in bullpen coach Gary Tuck's contract to the picked up is approaching, Cherington said.
"I've told some [of last year's coaches] that I don't see a scenario where they can be on the staff," he said. "And others where there's still a chance, [we're] continuing to talk to those guys."