Red Sox News: Ron Roenicke explains bench coach decision

FORT MYERS, FLORIDA - FEBRUARY 17: Manager Ron Roenicke #10 of the Boston Red Sox looks on during a team workout at jetBlue Park at Fenway South on February 17, 2020 in Fort Myers, Florida. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
FORT MYERS, FLORIDA - FEBRUARY 17: Manager Ron Roenicke #10 of the Boston Red Sox looks on during a team workout at jetBlue Park at Fenway South on February 17, 2020 in Fort Myers, Florida. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images) /

Boston Red Sox manager Ron Roenicke explains why he selected Jerry Narron as his bench coach over a more popular internal option such as Jason Varitek.

Spring training was already in full swing when Boston Red Sox manager Ron Roenicke revealed his choice to serve as his bench coach. A last minute hire isn’t ideal but his familiarity with Jerry Narron helps make up for lost time.

The Red Sox announced the hiring of their new bench coach over the weekend. Narron filled the same role in Milwaukee when Roenicke managed the Brewers so the pair already share a strong connection. Narron was also the bench coach for Grady Little when he managed the Red Sox in 2003 so he’s fully aware of the high expectations that come from coaching in Boston.

Narron’s experience working with Roenicke and with serving as a coach for this franchise aren’t the only factors that led to this decision. Roenicke explained that he valued a new voice to offer a different perspective from those that carried over from Alex Cora‘s coaching staff.

"“I think it’s good a lot of times to have a new voice,” Roenicke said, per WEEI’s Rob Bradford. “I’m not saying that we really necessarily need it here because things I think are doing really well. I like our coaching staff. I like what they do. But I think any time you come from an organization, you bring something. So Tim Hyers brought something from the Dodgers coming over. And we hired Pete (Fatse) this year, he brought something from the Twins. I think all the people that come from different organizations, they’ll bring something with them and especially if they’re good. if they’re good, they’re going to make a difference in what they bring over, what maybe you want to do things, but also, hey, this is how we did it there and is constantly trying to get things right.”"

The Red Sox are recovering from a tumultuous offseason in which their disgraced manager exited in the wake of a cheating scandal and their best player was shipped to Los Angeles in a glorified salary dump. The clubhouse desperately needs some stability to right the ship which is one reason why promoting the well-respected Roenicke is the right move, at least for the short term. Bringing in Narron as the bench coach adds a voice Roenicke trusts from their experience working together while providing an opportunity to introduce new ideas that he’s learned from other organizations.

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Fans had been clamoring for Jason Varitek to be the bench coach but if we’ve learned anything from this offseason it’s that the Red Sox aren’t interested in pandering to the fans. The former team captain is highly regarded by everyone in the organization and has long been viewed as a future manger. The future isn’t here yet though so it would be premature to elevate Varitek to that position considering he has zero coaching experience at any level.

The Red Sox haven’t clarified what Varitek’s role will be but he’s already making his presence felt in camp and it’s clear they intend to increase his responsibilities. Roenicke knows what Varitek can bring to the table but also recognizes there are rules limiting the number of coaches that can sit on the bench. Varitek will have a role helping players develop but the Red Sox valued other options with more experience to be available during games.

Roenicke also hinted that Varitek’s responsibilities to his family might limit his availability to the extent that he’s not ready for a full-time coaching position yet. He indicated that they want to utilize Varitek as much as his schedule will allow and the Red Sox are still in the process of working that out.

Varitek’s role in the organization should continue to grow and his knowledge of the game combined with his leadership skills suggest he’ll make a fine coach one day.

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Roenicke is stepping into the manager position for the first time in five years. He needs a voice he can trust who brings experience to the role. Narron checks all the boxes for what this team needs. He may not be the popular fan choice but Narron is the right choice.