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Coaching shakeup possible

By Nick Cafardo
Globe Staff / August 5, 2012
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When teams go bad at this time of the season, coaching changes are usually inevitable.

Will the Red Sox shake up their staff before the end of the season?

“Not this time,” said general manager Ben Cherington.

A team source indicated that the subject has come up, but whether there will be action later remains to be seen.

It’s no secret that when manager Bobby Valentine took the job he was asked to inherit some of Terry Francona’s staff, including hitting coach Dave Magadan, bullpen coach Gary Tuck, bench coach Tim Bogar, and first base coach Alex Ochoa.

It has been awkward for Valentine to have a bench coach, who is supposed to be his righthand man and confidant, who worked for the previous manager. Pitching coach Bob McClure is also a coach Valentine had to take after he was hired to be an organizational pitching evaluator and scout.

Valentine was able to bring in third base coach Jerry Royster and assistant pitching coach Randy Niemann. About two weeks ago, the Red Sox were informed by the league that Niemann should not be on the Sox bench because they are allowed only five uniformed coaches. Niemann is also a Valentine confidant but has been relegated to the clubhouse during games.

Ochoa is a holdover, but he played for Valentine and the two have hit it off.

According to a team source, the communication among Valentine, Tuck, and McClure has been much better over the past two weeks.

As for Valentine’s future, everyone is mum. It would be highly unusual to fire a manager before his first season is over.

The Sox owners, including president Larry Lucchino, have been at the Olympics and therefore missed the Red Sox Hall of Fame ceremonies Friday, but they were at the ballpark Saturday night.

John Henry didn’t feel the need to issue a vote of confidence to anyone. “We just have to play better on the field,” he said. “It’s really as simple as that.”

Hitting has been the problem recently. A team that used to grind out at-bats has been very impatient at the plate. The Sox had the bases loaded and one out in the ninth inning of Friday night’s 6-5 loss in 10 innings with Jacoby Ellsbury up, and the center fielder was unable to hit a fly ball. Dustin Pedroia followed with a fly to right to end the threat.

Other teams have moved coaches this season. The Angels replaced hitting coach Mickey Hatcher and the Cubs replaced their hitting coach, Rudy Jamarillo, who has a reputation as one of the best in baseball. Last week the Brewers fired bullpen coach Stan Kyles, blaming him for some of the woes the team has incurred.

Beckett starts Wed.

Josh Beckett (sore back) threw from 120 feet on flat ground. Valentine said Beckett will start Wednesday against the Rangers. Valentine said Beckett came in and lifted weights and seemed to have the back issue under control . . . Ellsbury did not start Saturday night’s 6-4 loss to the Twins and was replaced by Ryan Kalish. Valentine said Ellsbury has a “leg issue” but would not elaborate. Ellsbury has stretched out for some catches in the outfield recently. “He wanted to play through it,” Valentine said, “but I vetoed it.” Ellsbury came on as a defensive replacement in the ninth but did not bat . . . John Lackey said he has thrown four bullpen sessions of about 30 pitches each but, while making progress from Tommy John surgery, he has been told by doctors that he probably shouldn’t return to action this season.

Ortiz improving

David Ortiz said he’s starting to feel better, but slowly.

“It’s day-by-day, but I’m starting to feel better,’’ he said. “The pain is starting to go away, which is a good sign.”

Ortiz still didn’t know if he’d be able to get back before the end of this homestand. “I’ve got to wait until I start doing those power drills and be pain-free,” he said.

Ortiz was asked how difficult it is to sit on the sideline while the team is losing.

“Yeah, man. It’s hard, it’s real hard,’’ he said. “But it’s better to be smart than to be stupid, you know what I’m saying? I want to be out there, regardless. It doesn’t depend on me, it depends on how fast my injuries heal up. I can’t go back out on the field and put it at risk.”

Lowe on the market

Derek Lowe continues to work out in Fort Myers, Fla., with former trainer Chris Correnti in an effort to fix some mechanical issues that led to the Indians designating him for assignment. Lowe would love a return to Boston and the Sox have left the door open, but several media reports say the Orioles and Cubs have interest in him. Cubs boss Theo Epstein said via text that he’s not one of Lowe’s suitors.

Three’s a crowd

Valentine doesn’t know how long the team will carry three catchers. He said he has never been a fan of the concept, but said if they’re here long term he’ll try to get them all playing time. Jarrod Saltalamacchia returned after missing a day with food poisoning. He was the DH Saturday and went 1 for 3. Ryan Lavarnway was the odd man out as Kelly Shoppach caught Clay Buchholz. Lavarnway doubled in his final at-bat Friday . . . Will Middlebrooks was given most of the game off, but he pinch hit in the ninth. He popped to second to end the game. Middlebrooks has had a tender hamstring the entire season. Nick Punto replaced him at third . . . Rehabbing reliever Andrew Bailey (thumb surgery) doesn’t care what his role is when he returns to the Red Sox. “We’ll address it next spring,” he said.

Nick Cafardo can be reached at cafardo@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @nickcafardo.

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