hey're the part of the team you see only if you're sitting in the bleachers near the home bullpen in Fenway Park. Euclides Rojas is the Red Sox bullpen coach, a Cuban defector who was called the greatest relief pitcher in the history of Cuban baseball by Jose Contreras, the ace of the Cuban national team who last fall defected and two months later signed with the Yankees.
''As a person,'' said pitching coach Tony Cloninger, who met Rojas before he was hired away from the Pittsburgh Pirates, ''my first impression of Eukie is that he is a great human being with a great heart. He's a real special person who treats people real good. And as a bullpen coach, he's a real professional. He likes to work with these guys.''
Dana Levangie is Boston's bullpen catcher, a local kid (Brockton) who was a Division 2 All-American at American International College in Springfield, signed with the Sox, and played five seasons in the minor leagues before making it to the big leagues in his current capacity. Now in his seventh season as bullpen catcher, he has been with the team longer than anyone else in uniform, and during the spring can be seen giving his input when Cloninger and Rojas are working with a pitcher.
What do they do during a game? The easy answer is that Rojas oversees the relievers and Levangie warms them up before they enter a game, and they signal to manager Grady Little when a reliever is ready.
But it goes beyond that.
Rojas: ''Before each game, we meet with the pitching coach and the manager, who lets you know who will be used when, and in what situation. You need to know how each pitcher gets ready. My theory is to never trust what you see in the pen. Sometimes pitchers don't feel good warming up, but when they get in the game they find it. Adrenaline makes a big difference. In the bullpen, we don't like to work on negatives. You want the pitcher to feel confident that he's going to get hitters out.''
Levangie: ''Who answers the phone in the bullpen? Either Eukie or myself, whoever is closest. But you can feel when something is going to happen. You're watching the game, and I know in a certain situation who's going to pitch, so you're ready to roll. Do I watch to see how the ball is coming out of a pitcher's hand while he's warming up? By then, it's too late. You can address the issue the following day. Being a catcher, you have to learn all sorts of people, how to deal with people. That's the value of developing relationships and trust.''