Red Sox hire Bjornson to be bullpen coach

November 13th, 2017
Craig Bjornson (right) spent the last four seasons as the Astros' bullpen coach and worked with Alex Cora in 2017. (AP)

BOSTON -- New Red Sox manager Alex Cora rounded out his coaching staff on Monday with the hiring of Craig Bjornson as bullpen coach.

That vacancy at bullpen coach was created last week, when Dana LeVangie was promoted from that role to pitching coach.

Bjornson spent the past four seasons as bullpen coach for the Astros, who won the World Series earlier this month. Cora spent the 2017 season as Houston's bench coach, at which time he got to know Bjornson.

"We looked internal," said Red Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski. "We had good candidates, but it was a situation where Alex knows Craig very, very well. We had [vice president, pitching development/assistant pitching coach] Brian Bannister visit with him. We had Dana visit with him. I had talked to him just to check in with him at the end. Alex's thought process, and I didn't disagree with him, is that we have a new pitching coach so we wanted to put a veteran in the bullpen who has been there for a while."

Under the 48-year-old Bjornson, the Astros' bullpen was second in the Major Leagues in strikeouts per nine innings, sixth in opponents' batting average and 10th in WHIP. Over the past four years, Houston relievers had the highest strikeout-to-walk ratio in the Majors (3.17).

LeVangie is the only returning member from former Red Sox manager John Farrell's coaching staff.

Ron Roenicke is the new bench coach. Tim Hires is the hitting coach, and Andy Barkett will serve as his assistant. Tom Goodwin will coach first base and the outfielders. Third-base coach Carlos Febles will also serve as infield instructor.

The only role the Red Sox haven't filled is catching instructor. LeVangie served in that role the past five seasons, but his focus will now be on leading the pitching staff.