The White Sox shuffled their coaching staff on Tuesday, promoting Daryl Boston from their minor league system to first base coach and naming former Sox closer Bobby Thigpen as bullpen coach.
Thigpen replaces Juan Nieves, who left to become the Boston Red Sox’ pitching coach.
Harold Baines, the team’s first base coach the last seven years, moves to a newly created position of assistant hitting coach.
“It’s more his passion of what he enjoys doing,” manager Robin Ventura said.
Boston, 49, spent the last 12 seasons as Sox minor-league outfield coordinator and has served as a hitting coach with three teams in the minor league system. A Sox first-round draft pick in 1981, he played outfield for 11 major-league seasons with the Sox and three other teams from 1984-94. Boston, who was with the big-league club during September of last season, will oversee the outfield defense and see what he can do about getting the Sox to take bigger leads at first base.
“Sitting in the dugout [in September] I noticed we definitely need to improve our leads at first,” Boston said. “With the exception of maybe [Paul] Konerko, everybody should be able to go from first to third, or break up a double play to give us an extra at-bat. [Third-base coach] Joe [McEwing] handled the baserunning, but those are things we’ll emphasize in spring training.”
Thigpen, 49, the franchise leader with 201 saves, saved 57 games in 1990 — the second-highest total in major-league history. He spent the last four seasons as a pitching coach for the Sox’ AA Birmingham (2012) and Class A Winston-Salem (2009-11) teams. Thigpen also managed at Bristol from 2007-08.
“I’ve known Thiggy my entire career,” Ventura said. “The work he’s done throughout the minors and with the players we have, and being a bullpen guy, he’s a natural fit and one I’m very comfortable with.”
“Working with Coop [pitching coach Don Cooper] is going to be great,” Thigpen said. “He’s obviously one of the best pitching coaches in baseball. He and Juan were very close. I hope to be some enforcement for him. A lot of the [current pitchers] I had in the minors, so that will make the transition easier for me because I’m familiar with some of them.”
Baines, who ranks among all-time Sox leaders in homers, RBI and several other categories, spent the last nine seasons on the Sox coaching staff, including a two-year stint as Ozzie Guillen’s bench coach from 2004-05. He’ll work in step with hitting coach Jeff Manto. Staff coach Mike Gellinger, whose duties included assisting former hitting coach Greg Walker before Manto last season, will stay with the Sox put likely in a new capacity that involves less travel, Ventura said.
Manto, Cooper, third base coach McEwing, bench coach Mark Parent and bullpen catcher Mark Salas return to complete Ventura’s staff for 2013.