NESN announces Dave O'Brien to replace Orsillo

CHICAGO -- NESN announced in a release Tuesday night that David O'Brien is replacing Don Orsillo, who has served as Boston Red Sox play-by-play man on NESN for the past 15 seasons.

O’Brien has been part of the Red Sox radio broadcast team at WEEI for the past nine years, as well as doing a variety of sports for ESPN. O’Brien’s previous play-by-play experiences include the Atlanta Braves (1990-91), Florida Marlins (1993-2001), and the New York Mets (2003-05).

There was no indication that Orsillo had forewarning of his ouster, which he learned of about 10 days ago, according to a source. Orsillo was in the last year of his contract with NESN, but there have been no contentious contract talks nor had the network expressed any dissatisfaction with his work. Ratings have been in decline the past two years, but that almost certainly is due to the team’s last-place finish in 2014 and last-place standing for much of this season.

With his strong local ties and obvious popularity, Orsillo, who was born in Massachusetts, grew up in New Hampshire, and graduated from Northeastern University, had all the earmarks of a broadcast lifer with the Red Sox, the only team he has covered on a regular basis in the major leagues.

The network has leaned on Orsillo heavily during the travails of his broadcast partner, Jerry Remy. In 2009, while Remy was recovering from complications stemming from his lung cancer treatment, Orsillo worked with 26 different partners. And after Remy’s son, Jared, was charged in 2013 and convicted in 2014 for the slaying of the mother of his child, Jennifer Martell, Orsillo carried on, first without Remy during his leave of absence, then during his return, which became the focus of a highly charged debate.

Orsillo is under contract for the rest of the season.