BOSTON -- With the selection of Juan Nieves as their new pitching coach, the Red Sox have found someone who was probably long overdue for such a promotion.
With the White Sox, Nieves served as the bullpen coach for the last five years, and he had the advantage of working under the one of the best pitching coaches in the game in Don Cooper.
But instead of riding coattails, Nieves was running a program of his own, helping several pitchers thrive under his watch.
"There's a number of pitchers who have flourished with him as the bullpen coach," said Red Sox manager John Farrell. "And the fact that he's had a hand in that, but also to the conversion of Sergio Santos [to closer], the resurgence of Phil Humber, there's a number of guys you can point to, regardless of age, that have been very successful pitchers in Chicago and he's learned under a long-time pitching coach who has had a lot of success in his own right in Don Cooper and this is a very good fit for the Red Sox."
Nieves beat out three other finalists -- Rick Peterson, Randy St. Claire and Steve Foster -- for the spot.
There should be an easy synergy between Farrell and Nieves, who were teammates in the Winter League in Puerto Rico some 25 years ago.
"It was great, having a fit, having known John from a long time ago in Puerto Rico, having played in the same team, talking through the years, watching him work with Cleveland when I was with the Yankees," Nieves said. "We were able to talk a lot through the years and watching what he did, and speaking through Don Cooper and having all of that connection with him was a great fit and here we are."
Though the 47-year-old Nieves has never been a pitching coach at the Major League level, he worked in that role in Chicago's farm system for nine years.
Even during that time, he was always working side-by-side with Cooper.
"In Spring Training we're always together and during the season it's constant communication," Nieves said. "The adjustments and tweaking of this and that, has helped me through the years, of establishing a structure for the guys and staying the course. Creating stability for the guys is very important. Through Don and everything that he's let me do throughout the years, it's really unique what he's implemented in the White Sox organization and I'm bringing it over."
After naming Farrell as their new manager a couple of weeks ago, the Red Sox put a lot of thought into who would move into the vital position as pitching coach.
Since Farrell initially vacated that role in Boston to become the manager of the Blue Jays following the 2010 season, the Red Sox have lacked stability at that position.
Curt Young was the club's pitching coach in 2011, Terry Francona's final season as Boston's manager. Bob McClure was thrust into that post under Bobby Valentine at the beginning of '12. But in August, McClure was relieved of his duties and replaced by Randy Niemann.
Now it will be up to Nieves to help revive a staff that has been inconsistent the past couple of seasons.
"I have no question that the program and the consistency of it will be present here," said Farrell. "That will be largely in part what Juan brings here. There will certainly be a lot of input from my standpoint and really overseeing, whether it's pitching, hitting, regardless of the side of the game, but there's no doubt that stability is needed.
"I think if you look at any situation that has continuity to it, you have a greater chance for success, and by being with pitchers for a number of years, not only myself or Juan, to know what a pitcher's delivery is, to know about the person and how he performs best in tight situations, knowing how he performs best by different ways of handling the individual pitcher, that continuity is extremely important, and we would hope that would be the case with the entire staff, not just on the pitching side."
Nieves, a left-hander, pitched in the Majors for three seasons, going 32-25 with a 4.71 ERA for the Milwaukee Brewers. A native of Puerto Rico, Nieves threw a no-hitter on April 15, 1987.