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Red Sox hire Young as pitching coach

By Peter Abraham
Globe Staff / November 3, 2010

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It became clear to Red Sox manager Terry Francona late in the season that if pitching coach John Farrell elected to pursue a managerial job, he would likely get it.

So Francona set about identifying candidates to succeed Farrell, and asked Farrell to do the same. They arrived at the same conclusion: Athletics pitching coach Curt Young.

Yesterday, the Sox announced the hiring of Young as their new pitching coach.

Young, 50, is a few years older than Farrell and has a similar reputation for an attention to detail, an ability to forge relationships with pitchers, and a reasoned demeanor.

“We had internal and external candidates,’’ said Francona. “Curt was the No. 1 choice. I just didn’t know if it was realistic.’’

By Oct. 23, when it became evident that Farrell would become the manager of the Blue Jays, the Sox turned their attention to Young.

Young rejected a contract extension from Oakland and met with Sox general manager Theo Epstein in Arizona. While he had security in Oakland, Boston represented a step up.

“Knowing Terry, and the respect you have for him across the field, what a great job he does, it was definitely something that I could not pass on,’’ Young said.

The Sox also interviewed minor league pitching coordinator Ralph Treuel and advance scout Mike Cather, the former pitching coach at Double A Portland. But within a few days, they had a deal in place with Young.

“This is an exciting time for us,’’ Francona said. “We really caught a break. We got a really good pitching coach.’’

Young spent parts of 23 seasons with Oakland — 12 as a player, four as a minor league coach, and seven as pitching coach. Oakland had the lowest earned run average in the American League (4.03) during his tenure, while allowing the lowest batting average (.257) and fewest home runs.

This past season, Oakland had the lowest ERA in the AL (3.56) and led the league with 17 shutouts. Young played a large role in the development of Brett Anderson, Andrew Bailey, Trevor Cahill, Rich Harden, Dan Haren, and Huston Street.

As a player, the lefthanded Young was 69-53 with the Athletics, Royals, and Yankees.

“Pitchers who have worked with Curt swear by him,’’ Epstein said, “and the results speak for themselves.’’

Francona was the bench coach in Oakland in 2003 and had Young by his side for some intrasquad games in spring training. There is a familiarity that has grown in recent days.

“We have the whole offseason, which is actually kind of exciting,’’ Francona said. “I’m looking forward to hearing things that are important to him and having some back-and-forth.’’

Young inherits a staff heavy with All-Star appearances and World Series rings. But the Sox need to rebuild their bullpen and have a number of promising young pitchers whose development Farrell had been charged with.

“Now it’s more me getting to know them on a personal basis and getting to work with them,’’ Young said. “They have been successful with what they’re doing. I will bring suggestions that may help these guys get better, but mainly it’s coming in and learning what these guys do on a daily basis.’’

Farrell volunteered to speak with Young to ease the transition.

“John’s moved on, and I know he’s in our division, but you don’t stop caring about your pitching staff,’’ Francona said. “These guys get awfully close.’’

Francona tries to balance his emotions in public. But the addition of Young to his staff had him almost bubbly.

“This was an important hire,’’ he said. “Losing John Farrell was a big deal. Getting Curt Young is a big deal, and we’re really excited.’’

The Sox have until midnight tomorrow to decide whether to pick up their $12.5 million option on David Ortiz. He would otherwise become a free agent. The Sox have already informed utilityman Bill Hall that they will not exercise his $9.25 million option . . . With the Marlins and Brewers selecting new managers, the odds of bench coach DeMarlo Hale remaining with the Sox have increased. The Pirates and Mets are the only teams left with openings . . . Two Sox prospects — shortstop Jose Iglesias and catcher Ryan Lavarnway — were selected to the Arizona Fall League’s Rising Stars Game. The game is Saturday at 9 p.m. and will be on the MLB Network.

Peter Abraham can be reached at pabraham@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @peteabe.

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