The Red Sox are on to their third pitching coach in two seasons after firing Bob McClure on Monday.
McClure served as a pitching coach for the Rockies and Royals before being hired to replace Curt Young last December. Young lasted just one season after taking over for John Farrell, who left Boston after the 2010 campaign for a job as Toronto’s manager.
Replacing McClure is Randy Niemann, who was already working as Boston’s assistant pitching coach. Niemann spent the previous two decades with the Mets and worked under Bobby Valentine in New York for a time. It’s his first gig as a team’s primary pitching coach.
Under McClure, the Red Sox rank 11th in the AL with a 4.30 ERA this season. They were ninth in the league at 4.20 last year.
Royals’ Opening Day starter Danny Duffy weathered a minor scare during Saturday’s Cactus League game against the Diamondbacks. The left-hander was removed from his final spring training start after experiencing some left shoulder tightness in the second and third innings. No lasting damage appears to have been done — Duffy told reporters that he simply felt a slight ache, nothing more — and it looks like he’ll remain on track to open the season with the team next Thursday.
The 29-year-old southpaw is coming off one of his best performances to date. Despite losing a few weeks to an oblique strain and elbow soreness, he went 9-10 in 24 starts and finished the 2017 season with a 3.81 ERA, 2.5 BB/9 and 8.0 SO/9 over 146 1/3 innings. While Duffy entered camp with a clean bill of health, he struggled to execute against his spring training opponents and racked up 13 runs, four homers, seven walks and 11 strikeouts in 13 innings of Cactus League play.
The Royals are scheduled to kick off their home opener against the White Sox on Thursday, March 29 at 4:15 PM ET. Barring any further complications with his shoulder, Duffy will take the mound for the Royals, while James Shields is expected to make his first Opening Day appearance for the White Sox.