Juan Nieves took his medicine like a champ.
The Boston Red Sox fired Nieves from his position as pitching coach Thursday, with general manager Ben Cherington and manager John Farrell pointing to the club’s rotation struggles as the main reason. Nieves didn’t fire back in response to his dismissal, as the writing was on the wall for his departure.
“No, I wasn’t surprised. They know me,” Nieves told WEEI.com’s Rob Bradford via phone Thursday. “We were not pitching well and had a below-average month. I understand the decision that was made. I’m accountable for them.”
The Red Sox entered Thursday with a 5.54 rotation ERA, the second-worst mark in Major League Baseball behind the Colorado Rockies, who, of course, play in an extremely hitter-friendly environment. Nieves isn’t entirely to blame for the inconsistency, but the overall results speak for themselves.
“We were not very good at all,” Nieves told Bradford. “We showed flashes, and I hope they pitch better. We showed some flashes, but we were not good enough.
“I just think we had great communication with the guys. I thought the guys communicated really well among themselves. Of course they come from different places, not unlike the previous group that was here before. They knew what they were getting themselves into, with us having a rough year the year before. But these guys worked really with each other. They had great communication with me. It just took a little bit longer.”
Nieves, who was hired before the 2013 season, isn’t without a track record. He oversaw a Red Sox pitching staff in 2013 that posted a 3.79 ERA — Boston’s lowest mark since 2002 — and drew praise from several of the team’s former pitchers, including Jon Lester and John Lackey.
Nieves isn’t harboring any ill will toward his former employer after losing his job, though. Sometimes, change simply is necessary for an organization to take the next step.
“(Cherington and Farrell) were very respectful,” Nieves said. “It’s not because of lack of work or lack of preparation. It just didn’t happen.”
The Red Sox did not immediately announce a replacement for Nieves. Boston is considering at least one internal candidate and one external candidate to fill the vacancy, according to Cherington.
Thumbnail photo via Kim Klement/USA TODAY Sports Images