New pitching coach Young not going for quick fixes

By Peter Abraham
Globe Staff / January 20, 2011

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Whether it is fair or not, new Red Sox pitching coach Curt Young will be judged largely on whether Josh Beckett is able to bounce back from a disastrous 2010 season.

The Opening Day starter, Beckett went 6-6 with a career-worst 5.78 earned run average. The Yankees were particularly abusive, torching the righthander for 29 earned runs over 26 innings.

Young’s charge is to correct that.

After lengthy discussions with general manager Theo Epstein and manager Terry Francona, Young has an idea about what needs to be fixed. But he’s keeping an open mind for now.

“I’m not inclined to say until I sit down with Josh and see him throw a baseball,’’ Young said. “I’ve watched a lot of video, [but] I’m really not going to form an opinion that way right now until I’m with him and seen him pitch.’’

Hired Nov. 2 to replace new Blue Jays manager John Farrell, Young has reached out to the pitchers, if only to say hello and introduce himself.

“I’m sure we’ll jell quick,’’ said Young, who was Oakland’s pitching coach for seven seasons.

Young was at Boston College’s indoor facility yesterday to work with players in the team’s rookie development program.

A time to refine Young spent part of his time watching lefthander Andrew Miller throw. The Sox signed the former first-round pick to a minor league deal last month.

“I know he’s very excited to be in the organization,’’ Young said. “He’s very interesting. You have a guy with that much talent, he can really help us.’’

Miller, who turns 26 in March, already has spent parts of five seasons in the majors. He has lacked consistency and picked up mechanical flaws that cost him velocity and movement on his fastball.

“He’s been through a few bumps,’’ said Young. “The opportunity to come up with the Tigers as early as he did, sometimes you wonder whether that’s a good thing or a bad thing. That’s the path he took and he’s here now.’’

Young said Miller is not a total reclamation project. It’s more refining his delivery and mind-set.

“Every pitcher has to do the fundamental things right,’’ said Young. “Those are the things I talked to him a little about.

“As we see him throw, those things have to be working in the right direction for him to throw the ball effectively. Guys get to certain ages and their mechanics are created. It’s a matter of getting him consistent and working with three pitches. We’re all very eager to see him this spring.’’

Gonzalez throwing Adrian Gonzalez, who had surgery on his right (non-throwing) shoulder last fall, has started a throwing program in California. reported that the first baseman played catch with his brother Monday and had no pain. Gonzalez hopes to start swinging a bat in late February and could be in Fort Myers, Fla., by the week of Feb. 7.

The expectation is that Gonzalez will be ready for spring training games by mid-March and available for Opening Day.

Inspiring progress Outfielder Ryan Westmoreland, who underwent brain surgery last March, has been working out at the team complex in Florida and making remarkable progress, according to player development director Mike Hazen.

“We’re not going to make any hard-line predictions on a time frame when he’s actually going to play in a game,’’ said Hazen. “We’ll take it day by day. We’re seeing steady progress. It’s still going to take a little while to get him back to where he was.

“If you’re betting on any one person to get back and make it to that place, it’s him. You’d be amazed at the amount of drive. It’s inspiring is what it is. You just hope that he’s going to be able to take the field again one day because you know how bad he wants it.’’

Westmoreland, once the organization’s top prospect, was discovered to have enlarged blood vessels in his brain stem during spring training last season.

Bearing down New reliever Bobby Jenks, wearing a Chicago Bears T-shirt, also threw at BC . . . The rookies have heard from a variety of speakers during the program. Along with Epstein, Francona and others in the organization, outfielders Ryan Kalish and Darnell McDonald shared their experiences. “[Kalish] is the shining example of going about it the right way and seeing those things pay off,’’ Hazen said. “To watch him come out here in the middle of January, even when he’s not invited to this program, but wanting to come out anyway and work out side by side with these guys? His name’s been bought up quite a bit in this program.’’ Kalish said his message was simple. “Just to work hard, have fun, and don’t leave any regrets,’’ he said. “This opportunity is once in a lifetime.’’

Michael Vega of the Globe staff contributed to this report.

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