Red Sox hire Carl Willis as new pitching coach

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Two days after firing pitching coach Juan Nieves the Red Sox have decided on a replacement, hiring 54-year-old Carl Willis away from the Indians organization.

Peter Abraham of the Boston Globe reports that Willis will join the team today, leaving his position as Triple-A pitching coach for the Indians after the Red Sox received permission to interview him.

Willis has been a big-league pitching coach for the Indians and the Mariners, and has experience working with Red Sox manager John Farrell from their time together in Cleveland’s farm system. CC Sabathia, Cliff Lee, and Felix Hernandez all won Cy Young awards with Willis as their pitching coach, for whatever that’s worth.

Willis replaces Nieves, who won the World Series in his first season on the job in 2013 and was fired in his third season on the job thanks to Red Sox pitchers having the worst ERA in the league. Willis’ biggest challenge will be turning around a rotation that lacks No. 1/No. 2 starters and currently features ugly ERAs across the board from Rick Porcello (4.38), Justin Masterson (5.18), Joe Kelly (5.72), Clay Buchholz (6.03), and Wade Miley (6.91).

Brewers have 3 positive COVID tests at alternate site

Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports
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MILWAUKEE — The Brewers had two players and a staff member test positive for the coronavirus at their alternate training site in Appleton, Wisconsin.

Milwaukee president of baseball operations David Stearns confirmed the positive results Saturday and said they shouldn’t impact the major league team. Teams are using alternate training sites this season to keep reserve players sharp because the minor league season was canceled due to the pandemic.

Stearns said the positive tests came Monday and did not name the two players or the staff member. Players must give their permission for their names to be revealed after positive tests.

The entire camp was placed in quarantine.

“We have gone through contact tracing,” Stearns said. “We do not believe it will have any impact at all on our major league team. We’ve been fortunate to get through this season relatively unscathed in this area. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to get all the way there at our alternate site.”

Milwaukee entered Saturday one game behind the Reds and Cardinals for second place in the NL Central, with the top two teams qualifying for the postseason.

The Brewers still will be able to take taxi squad players with them on the team’s trip to Cincinnati and St. Louis in the final week of the season. He said those players have had repeated negative tests and the team is “confident” there would be no possible spread of the virus.

“Because of the nature of who these individuals were, it’s really not going to affect the quarantine group at all,” Stearns said. “We’re very fortunate that the group of players who could potentially be on a postseason roster for us aren’t interacting all that much with the individuals that tested positive.”