The reports from late last night are apparently true. Jon Heyman reports that Terry Francona has managed his last game in Boston. No sense yet if it will be couched as a resignation or the Red Sox deciding not to pick up his 2012 option or Francona requesting that they not do it or whatever. There will be an announcement from the team later today, though, so we should get the story then.
Matthew touched on the ridiculousness of the Sox wanting Francona gone here and the lack of readily-identifiable replacements here. I did some of that yesterday and I talked a bit about Red Sox’ team chemistry — the reported basis for the Francona-hate today — here.
We’ll obviously have more on this as people in official capacities begin to speak and leak about it.
Rob Biertempfel of The Athletic reports that the Pirates have decided to convert outfielder JB Shuck into a two-way player. Recent comments relayed from the club’s director of player development, Larry Broadway, indicated that the outfielder would be coached in developing his pitching skills while working at Triple-A Indianapolis.
Per Broadway, the change would be enacted to help the veteran outfielder develop some much-needed versatility in the majors, where he’s only ever been limited to outfield and DH responsibilities. Well, except for the two games in which he pitched an inning of relief: once, against the Nationals in a blowout 11-4 loss in 2016, then in a similarly painful loss to the Diamondbacks this past April. During the latter outing, he finished the game with a 13-pitch ninth inning after allowing just one hit and one walk.
Add to that one minor-league outing in 2012, and the 31-year-old Shuck has pitched just three times over the course of his 12-season career in pro ball. While he has three years of experience on the mound from his college days, he’ll need quite a bit of preparation to handle the kind of workload expected from a two-way outfielder/reliever: 20+ innings pitched over a season and 20+ games played as a designated hitter or position player.
Still, his lack of experience doesn’t seem to faze Broadway, at least not this early in the process. There’s no word yet on how soon Shuck would be expected to debut his new skillset on a major-league level.