Red Sox Minor League coach Bianca Smith's goal? To manage in Majors

March 11th, 2022

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- A year into her professional baseball coaching career, Bianca Smith has a running list of things she wants to get better at each day and week. She also has the confidence to know she will make those improvements.

When -- not if -- is her mantra.

For she knows they are all necessary if she is to reach her ultimate goal of managing in the Major Leagues.

But there could be more history in her future.

Could it be that she will become the first female Major League manager? Or if not, perhaps the first Black female Major League manager?

“There’s got to be a first for everything,” said Smith. “It’s not an if, it’s a when. When it happens.”

Currently, Smith is a coach for Boston’s Complex League affiliate in Fort Myers. There are many steps to go before she lands at her ultimate goal. But Smith is perfectly willing to do everything it takes to get there.

How is her second year with the Red Sox compared to last year?

“It’s easier and harder at the same time,” said Smith. “Easier just because I know the staff and I know the organization. I know most of the players, so coming in, I have a different comfort level where I’ve been here, done that. Now I get to build off of what I did last year. I worked a lot this offseason on plans, things I wanted to do differently, myself, as a coach.”

And harder why?

“Just because getting to those expectations I have of myself, OK, now I’ve got to do this better,” said Smith. “It’s not that I just need to do more. I also just want to do more. That’s just the type of person I am. I want to be a better coach. I want to be a better member of the staff, a better teammate, what else can I do? And just finding that and trying not to put too much pressure on myself but at the same time knowing that I need to keep growing.”

As part of that growth, Smith would like to become more involved with the hitters. Last year, most of her focus was on outfield and baserunning.

“Also, working with our manager [Jimmy Gonzalez] more and helping him with his duties, helping him out some more, coaching third a few times, getting on the other side of it,” said Smith. “He was all for it. There’s a few things that I definitely want to do more and [get] better at. Even with the outfield and baserunning, just being more confident, being more prepared with the things I come to the table with.”


The Red Sox are gaining a lot of momentum in making their organization more diverse. Earlier in the offseason, they hired Katie Krall as a player development coach at Double-A Portland. This made Boston the first team to have two female coaches.

And it gave Krall an unprecedented resource when she reported to her first Spring Training.

“It’s been amazing,” said Krall. “I think she set the bar really high for all coaches. But to have her as a resource to get a sense of interpersonal dynamics or, like, the infrastructure of the Red Sox from that perspective, she’s been so willing to mentor me and to be a friend and a resource. That has been really amazing and a privilege that I have that some other women don’t at other organizations.”

While Smith’s people skills, coaching skills and work ethic have already become well known within the Red Sox organization, her toughness came to the forefront last month.

Doing some volunteer work for Carroll University, where she coached before coming to the Red Sox, Smith was belted in the face by a line drive in the batting cage.

“I got 11 stitches, broken nose, two black eyes,” said Smith. “My black eyes are fine, I think my right one is pretty much gone. The left is like a slight [mark]. You’d only know if you knew it was there. The gash is healing well. The left side of my nose is still broken, still a little bit swollen. Stitches came out after a week.”

The fact that Smith posted the photos of what her face looked like after the incident was a sign of how secure she is in herself.

“One, I thought it would be a slightly funny post of, this is what happens when you get distracted: You get hit in the face,” said Smith. “The head coach asked me to warm up some of the freshman hitters in the middle of the game. So I’m in the cages next to the field, I throw the ball, I turn to look at the field and see what was happening in the game and hadn’t realized that I had stepped back instead of forward.

“And when I heard the ball hit, I turned back and I was just past the screen. The ball just missed the screen too. Again, credit to Oakley. I actually still have [the sunglasses]. The lenses didn’t break, I’m only missing the left earpiece, but you can see the smudge where the ball hit my shades. The eye doctor said it doesn’t even look like the ball hit my eye at all.”

Despite all the pain, Smith was proud to live up to the famous, “There’s no crying in baseball” quote made famous by Tom Hanks’ Jimmy Dugan in “A League of Their Own”.

“I didn’t black out. I didn’t cry,” said Smith. “Once I calmed myself down, one of the parents who was there was an EMT and got gauze on my face, asked me a bunch of questions, made sure I wasn’t concussed. She sat me on a bucket, and I said, ‘Hey, can you turn me around so I can watch the rest of the game?’ I even asked if they could do the stitches at the field so I didn’t miss the second game, and they were like, ‘You should probably go to the hospital.’”

And then the tears came for other reasons.

“I did end up crying, not because of the injury, but because they told me I’d have to do a CT scan, and it was going to take two hours and I was going to miss the second game,” Smith said. “Then, I started crying. I texted the head coach and some of the other coaches and was like, ‘Keep me updated, let me know what’s going on with the game.’ As soon as the game was done, they let me know what happened.

“I asked about the two guys who had been at the cages with me at the time, the one who hit me and the other freshman, like, ‘How are they doing?’ Honestly, that was because I remember the incident down here when [Ryan] Brasier got hit. I remember I was in the dugout for that, and the player who hit him, how distraught he was. And that was my first thought was, I got to check on these guys and make sure they know I’m OK.”


The real sting of the whole ordeal for Smith is that she hasn’t been able to throw batting practice yet at Minor League Spring Training as her injuries heal up. But she is waiting -- not so patiently -– for that day.

“The Sox are making sure that I slowly work my way back up even though I’m trying to go faster than what I probably should,” Smith said. “They’re kind of not letting me do anything until they know I’m completely OK.”

Make no mistake: The fearless Smith will have no hesitation to get back behind that L-screen as soon as she gets clearance.

“That’s the plan. I’ve been working on my BP over the offseason. It wasn’t bad last year, not at all. Yes, love throwing BP. It’s one of my favorite parts,” Smith.

It seems that every part of baseball is something Smith takes joy in.

“It helps that I absolutely love my job. I can’t imagine doing anything else,” Smith said. “I spent the majority of the offseason just coaching for fun, like volunteering.”

Gone are the days when she worked multiple part-time jobs just to be able to pay the bills and her post-graduate education.

“Oh, it’s awesome,” Smith said. “Not having to go home and then 30 minutes later, I’m off to another job, it’s amazing.”

The Red Sox look forward to seeing her take another step forward in ’22.

“Obviously, we’re excited to have her back,” said Red Sox director of player development Brian Abraham. “She has a lot of energy, a lot of curiosity, a lot of intelligence. Those are the type of staff members I think we’re looking for.”