White Sox add Jerry Narron to coaching staff

Narron, a former MLB manager, will work with the White Sox catchers.

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The White Sox hired Jerry Narron as a major league instructor.

The White Sox hired Jerry Narron as a major league instructor.

Matt York/AP

Jerry Narron showed James McCann how to be a better receiver and pitch framer last offseason.

As a Brewers coach he oversaw Jonathan Lucroy’s All-Star seasons when Lucroy was one of the best catchers around. Throughout his 26-year career as a manager and coach, he also has worked with Ivan Rodriguez, Jason Varitek, Martin Maldanado and David Ross.

A former catcher himself, Narron was first coached by Yankees greats Yogi Berra and Elston Howard and as he put it, they learned from Bill Dickey so his catching lineage “goes back to the 1920s when you get down to it.”

And so with no major-league catching voice on his staff, it made good sense for manager Tony La Russao to name Narron a White Sox instructor with an emphasis on catching. The team announced the move Wednesday.

“And just talking to Tony, [the role] will probably involve some other things also,” Narron, 65, said Wednesday. “But looking at the talent the White Sox have, the year they had a year ago and with Tony coming in, it’s a great opportunity to work with some really good players and an opportunity to win. That’s why we’re all in the game, is to win. And this ballclub has some talent. We think if we do the right things on the field, we’ll have the chance to play into October.”

Narron, the Red Sox’ bench coach in 2020, was the Rangers’ manager from 2001-02 and the Reds’ manager from 2005-07.

A major-league catcher for parts of eight seasons, Narron was a Brewers coach from 2011-15, when he worked with Lucroy, 34. The veteran signed a minor-league deal with an invite to spring training last week looking to resurrect his career following neck surgery. Lucroy will compete for the No. 2 catcher’s job behind Yasmani Grandal in spring training, which opens next week, and Narron will attempt to make Lucroy, whose framing numbers worsened in recent years, look more like the catcher he was in Milwaukee.

“Just watching Lucroy with other clubs when we did play them the last couple of years, I thought he got a little lackadaisical at times and I told him that,” Narron said. “He has to come in and bear down pitch by pitch and fight for every pitch for the pitcher and I think he’ll do that. That’s the lives these guys have to have.”

Narron will also work with catchers Zack Collins, Yermin Mercedes and Seby Zavala, who will compete with Lucroy for a job in camp.

Working with La Russa appealed to Narron, who had other opportunities. Before his stint last season with the Red Sox, Narron was the Diamondbacks’ bench coach from 2017-19. La Russa was still in the Diamondbacks’ front office in 2017.

“I had an opportunity to get to know him better,” Narron said. “But I always had a lot of respect for him.

“These guys that are going to have a chance to play for him, it’s a great opportunity to learn from one of the best guys of all time. These guys have a chance to get a lot better by being around Tony and seeing how he’s going to run games and run a club.”

Pitchers and catchers report to White Sox spring training Feb. 17 in Glendale, Arizona.

NOTE: James Kruk was promoted to head athletic trainer Wednesday and Brett Walker was promoted to director of rehabilitation.

Kruk, 37, served as Sox assistant trainer the last two seasons but held a higher profile in the absence of head trainer Brian Ball, who was away for personal reasons.

Walker, 40, spent the last two seasons as major-league physical therapist/assistant athletic trainer for the Sox.

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