When Red Sox manager Alex Cora decided who would join his 2021 coaching staff, a new recruit got high marks from former World Series champions around the Majors.
Dodgers manager Dave Roberts and Cubs skipper David Ross made it a point to call Cora and vouch for Will Venable upon hearing that the former Major Leaguer was joining the Red Sox as a bench coach.
“They were right,” Cora said. “He’s a good one.”
Venable covers many facets of the game as a bench coach, from days off to game plans, but during games the 38-year-old controls the running game from the dugout. The methodology for preventing stolen bases comes down to pitchers working quickly and to calling the right pickoff plays while doing it differently each time.
"These are all things that we're working on and trying to just be really proactive,” Venable said. “[It's about] how we would go about that and changing our looks and trying different things, so it's an ongoing process.”
Before he joined the Red Sox, Venable was a coach and special assistant to the president of baseball operations with the Cubs dating back to September 2017. His nine years in the Majors prepared him for his career as a coach, though he isn’t ready to be at the helm of a team quite yet.
"That's not something that I'm thinking about right now,” Venable said. “Obviously, I've had opportunities to do some interviews, which has been a great learning experience. But the more I learned about that role, the more I understand how challenging it is.
"If that's something that happens down the road, great. But for right now, I'm just trying to be the best coach for the Boston Red Sox that I can.”
The Red Sox have been pleased with Venable’s work ever since Spring Training. He was often referred to as the MVP in camp, particularly for how organized he was while balancing different obligations.
"When his name was brought up, I talked to him for 2 1/2 hours, and I'm not great at conversations over the phone, and he opened my eyes,” Cora said. "He's been really good, very organized, in tune with the game, in tune with the players, in tune with the organization. I think we made the right decision to bring him on board.”
• Right-handed pitcher Tanner Houck will be shut down after he left last Tuesday's start with Triple-A Worcester with a sore right flexor muscle. "This is something that we feel that is going to be short term,” Cora said. “It's not something that we are overly concerned about.”