While pitchers and catchers officially reported to Fort Myers, Fla., on Tuesday as the Red Sox commence spring training and their World Series title defense, the team’s flagship radio station has just about finalized its roster of broadcasters.
And there’s going to be a prominent platoon.
Joe Castiglione, who has been part of the Red Sox’ radio broadcast team since 1983, is back for his 37th season. But the spot vacated when Tim Neverett, who had been Castiglione’s partner on WEEI’s broadcasts for the past three seasons, chose not to renew his contract in December, will not be filled by a single play-by-play voice or analyst.
Instead, WEEI is expected to announce in the next few days that it will use a cast of broadcasters with Castiglione this season.
According to sources with knowledge of the process, those expected to be in the mix are Will Flemming, who currently calls Pawtucket Red Sox games, and Mario Impemba, a longtime Tigers broadcaster who was fired — along with analyst Rod Allen — in September after an altercation in the booth. Red Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski wrote the foreword to Impemba’s book.
Analysts who will join Castiglione at times to be part of a three-person booth will include WEEI’s Rob Bradford and Lou Merloni, and Boston Sports Journal’s Sean McAdam. And at least one other former Red Sox player besides Merloni may be part of the rotation.
NESN’s Tom Caron may also call a game on radio once in a while. And one source suggested that Sean McDonough, the outstanding Red Sox television voice from 1988-2004, could call an occasional game. That would be a coup for WEEI, but he is under contract at ESPN. He did not respond to messages seeking comment.
The mix-and-match approach adds an extra degree of challenge for Castiglione. He has typically worked with one consistent broadcast partner, among them Ken Coleman (1983-89), Bob Starr (1990-92), Jerry Trupiano (1993-2006), Dave O’Brien (2007-15), and Neverett.
But he has also worked with Merloni, Sean Grande, Dale Arnold, Jon Rish, and Glenn Geffner, so he is capable of adjusting to an assortment of styles.
The timing of Neverett’s departure (to join the Dodgers broadcast team) and the surprise in some corners of WEEI and parent company Entercom Communications that he would choose to leave what would seem a plum job limited the station’s options in its search, according to one source. Most established broadcasters were already under contract for the 2019 season elsewhere.
At some point, WEEI isn’t just going to require a partner for Castiglione, but a successor as well given that he turns 72 in March and cut back his schedule last year. But the mix-and-match approach gives them some time to find the right long-term fit.