The Boston Red Sox announced Thursday the hiring of Chili Davis as the team's new hitting coach. Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington and manager John Farrell made the announcement.
Davis served as hitting coach for the Oakland Athletics for the past three seasons. He rejoins the organization after serving as hitting coach for the Triple-A Pawtucket Red Sox in 2011.
"The biggest deciding factor was that I had been in the organization," Davis said in a conference call with reporters. "I had worked in the organization in 2011 so I am somewhat familiar with the personnel in the organization. They gave me the first opportunity to actually do day-in, day-out coaching for a full year. I loved the time I spent in Pawtucket and the people I was around. It was an opportunity to come back and be around them again."
Davis replaces Greg Colbrunn, who had a serious health scare earlier this season and chose not to return for the 2015 season. Colbrunn cited a desire to spend more time with his family as a reason he elected not to return next season.
Boston went from having the majors' most prolific offense in 2013 -- Colbrunn's first season as a big league hitting coach -- to having one of the worst in 2014. The Red Sox finished tied for 12th in runs scored with 634. They were 14th in slugging percentage (.369), 12th in home runs (123), eighth in on-base percentage (.316) and 14th in OPS+ (92), which is on-base plus slugging adjusted to a team's home park.
However, Davis feels the talent is already in place for the team to improve upon those numbers immediately.
"I think the Red Sox have a very strong team already," Davis said. "I think that if I can come in and add a little bit about how I approach the game and the mentality that I give to the game, I'm hoping that we can establish, first of all, a strong enough trust and some respect and we can go out and play the game the way the Red Sox have played the game in their world championship years offensively and turn things around."
Davis enjoyed 19 successful years in the majors as an outfielder and designated hitter. He was a three-time All-Star during his career.
Davis also played alongside Farrell with the Angels during parts of 1993 and 1994.
"It always goes back to the person that Chili is," Farrell said. "You talk about an incredible playing career, incredible message with the person and the genuineness that Chili is -- our players will feel this immediately. And some have already with the time spent in Pawtucket."
"The experience we had with him in 2011. We were teammates a number of years ago. Knowing him personally, knowing what our needs were here, this is an ideal fit with Chili joining our staff and the organization."
Davis will also be reunited with outfielder Yoenis Cespedes, whom he coached with Oakland.
"Cespy is a special player. A very special player with a lot of talent," Davis said. "Feel like we formed a relationship in Oakland but we weren't quite finished building that relationship. But I think the relationship we formed, it won't be that difficult for me to try to pick up where we were before."
"I told him this to his face, he's got greatness written all over him," Davis added. "He does everything -- he can run, he can throw, he can hit, he can hit for power. I think once he settles in Fenway Park and gets comfortable -- it took him a while to get comfortable in Oakland as well -- so once he gets comfortable there there's no telling what he might put up in a season as a player. To me, I think he can be a great player. It's all up to him whether or not he wants to be that. But I think he has the ability to be a great player."
The Red Sox also announced Thursday the decision to bring back Victor Rodriguez for a third year with the organization as assistant hitting coach.
"There's a number of reasons," Farrell explained. "That goes back to the rapport that was already in place. When Chili was here, Victor was the hitting coordinator at the time. There's relationships that are already established with guys on our roster, even as that roster has turned over. What's important, I think most important about a two-man hitting system, is that there's a similar approach to hitting that is talked about. There's a working relationship that both guys will be able to tap into and reference from previously. Victor's return was as much a natural fit as Chili's return to the organization."
With the hitting coach roles filled, the Red Sox coaching staff is set for the season, according to Farrell. However, bench coach Torey Lovullo still remains a finalist for the managerial opening in Minnesota following the firing of Ron Gardenhire.
"It would be a great opportunity for him," Farrell said. "We'll see how that plays out but our staff will be intact pending any further changes."