Willis joins Sox, gets right to work

Pitching coach tasked with turning staff around

Willis joins Sox, gets right to work

TORONTO -- New Red Sox pitching coach Carl Willis was in uniform Sunday for the team's series finale against the Blue Jays, wrapping up a whirlwind few days for the club's newest hire.

He was coaching in Columbus, Ohio, on Thursday when he first caught wind that the Red Sox were interested in his services. He flew to Toronto on Saturday, and on Sunday, he was on the job, ready to go.

"I was caught a little bit off guard," Willis said. "It's happened quickly."

Willis, who replaces Juan Nieves, had been the pitching coach for the Indians' Triple-A Columbus affiliate. He had spent 11 years in the role at the Major League level, with the Indians between 2003-09 and the Mariners from 2010-13.

The 54-year-old has experience with Red Sox manager John Farrell during their time in the Indians' organization.

"We worked a lot together, even during my time at the Major League level, because of his experience as a pitcher," Willis said. "We all, at times, need someone to bounce ideas off of, and John was that guy for me. We talked a lot."

Willis has the unenviable task of leading a pitching staff with the worst ERA in baseball (5.69) entering play Sunday.

He said joining a team in-season will have its challenges.

"It's going to take a little while for me to get up to speed," Willis said. "Obviously, I'll be watching them in a whole different perspective now. I've asked them for a little bit of patience to allow me that time and I will connect with them."

Jamie Ross is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.