Boston Red Sox: Juan Nieves

Nieves, Pierzynski bonded by both Sox

December, 14, 2013
BOSTON -- Although the Red Sox made their one-year deal with A.J. Pierzynski official on Dec. 4, it seems the free-agent catcher's interest in Boston began much earlier than that.

How early? According to Red Sox pitching coach Juan Nieves, about five weeks earlier -- when the team was on the verge of winning the World Series.

"We spoke in St. Louis because he was there [working as a television analyst]," Nieves said Saturday. "He mentioned the fact, 'I would love to come here and be with this group,' because he saw the atmosphere in the locker room.


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"The seed was planted there."

Indeed, Pierzynski worked as an analyst during the 2013 postseason for Fox, his third year doing so. However, it was the five years Pierzynski spent working closely in Chicago with then-bullpen coach Nieves that led to the conversation the two had in October.

"He's going to bring a lot of energy, a lot of will to win," Nieves said. "It's going to be exciting to see how he manages our pitching staff."

Pierzynski served as the Chicago White Sox's primary catcher from 2005 to 2012 before signing with the Texas Rangers a month after Nieves left Chicago to join the Red Sox staff as pitching coach. Pierzynski hit .272 with 17 home runs and 70 RBIs for Texas last season.

"When you see A.J. as an opposing player you don't like him, but when you see him on your team you're going to see a guy that comes in every day and plays hard," Nieves said. "He wants to be in that big situation."

Pierzynski spent the first five seasons of his major league career on the Minnesota Twins, playing with current Red Sox designated hitter David Ortiz; he caught pitcher Jake Peavy with the White Sox from 2009 to 2012.

"For the experience and for the type of player he is, I think he will be a nice fit on the team," Nieves said. "We're going to embrace that, but that will start right after the beginning of January."

Nieves breaks down Sox starters

February, 20, 2013
Sox pitching coach Juan Nieves, whom Gordon Edes profiles in a column now posted on, weighs in with his thoughts on some Boston starters:

Jon Lester: "Wow. A horse. Unbelievable upside still. Stuff is there. Alterations, yes, must make some alterations. Conviction. Tough guy. My God, I never realized he was that big. I saw him really thin years ago. He's a big human. Very talented. Still, stuff is there, and I think with alterations he'll be fine. Not analyzing, conviction with alterations in delivery, trusting that will be challenge. Not more. More is not better."

Clay Buchholz: "Oh, incredibly talented guy even though I haven't seen him [live], I love what I've seen on video. Athletic, big-time contact guy. Should trust his stuff. Early contact guy. Command guy, still can throw very hard. He can get a punchout when he wants to. Can pitch under the zone early in the count so he can get a lot of ground balls. Keeps walks down. Keeps hit down per innings pitched. He should win 15 to 18 games. What a tremendous athlete."

Ryan Dempster: "Oh, he brings a lot to the table. Great sense of humor. Hard worker. You're not in big leagues 14, 16 years because you don't work. What a tremendous asset to this staff. Very serious guy but he'll also keep guys loose and relaxed, instead of uptight and wound up. He brings a lot of stability to the staff. He's a student of the game. He'll be the guy who helps [other pitchers]. A lot of guys, I'm sure, will go to him, and I advise them to do it."

Felix Doubront: "Oh, talented guy. 6-foot-4 lefty with a tremendous arm. Late in the season I saw his adjustments. He brings to the table incredible stuff. Fastball, cutter, curveball, changeup. This guy reminds me of a young CC [Sabathia]. Almost the same delivery, the same build. But he has to find himself and I think the best is yet to come from him."

John Lackey: "Ohhh, he's awesome. He's in great shape. What I've seen right now, I know John [Farrell] spoke to him, was able to see him [this winter] when I was somewhere else, I am thrilled about this guy. Really thrilled. Great guy, great sense of humor, fearless. You always think as a pitching coach, what does he bring to the table after a surgery? He has enough. There's enough stuff there. You always think, does he have to change his style, is it going to take time for him to adjust from being the guy he was to a few clicks [less]? The ball is coming out great, great spin on the fastball, the ball is not cutting true, great delivery, he's back to his old delivery. It might not be 97, 98, [but] the ball is coming out easy. And we know he's a great athlete.

"As I speak here, we're healthy; if we have a chance to be healthy, it should be fun."

Farrell on Nieves: 'A very good fit'

November, 7, 2012
INDIAN WELLS, Calif. -- During a conference call to announce Juan Nieves has been hired as his new pitching coach, Red Sox manager John Farrell said the decision was based on the longstanding rapport the two have.

"His ability, his communication and my understanding of Juan and what's important to him as a person, as much as a pitching coach, those were all factored into the ease of communication, which is going to be a major component once we get into in-game input that he'll have in the dugout," Farrell said. "I feel with our rapport and existing knowledge of the guys on the pitching staff already, this is a very good fit and a very good tandem."

Farrell expressed the importance of communication between the manager, the pitching coach and the entire pitching staff, and his confidence in Nieves' ability in that area.

"The ease of our working relationship will really foster that," Farrell said.

It was believed that longtime pitching coach Rick Peterson was the favorite for the job -- a baseball source last week told that Farrell was "all in" on Peterson. Farrell said he was impressed with all four candidates who interviewed (Marlins pitching coach Randy St. Claire and Royals bullpen coach Steve Foster were the others) but Nieves got the job for a number of reasons.

"All four candidates that we sat and met with were strong candidates, but we felt with the ease of conversations with Juan, also looking at the pitchers he has helped in his time with the White Sox, there were a number of factors," Farrell said.

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