UNCW Hall of Fame pitcher Carl Willis has spent the last week getting familiar with his staff after being named the new Boston Red Sox pitching coach on Saturday.
Willis, who pitched for the Seahawks from 1980 to 1983, became the first Seahawk player to earn a world championship ring when he played a role for the Minnesota Twins during their storybook 1991 season.
Nicknamed “Big Train” by his teammates for his clutch relief performances, Willis played three seasons for the Twins and pitched in the big leagues for nine years. He had a 22-15 career record and played in 267 games.
He was presented the Distinguished Service Award by the UNCW Alumni Association in 1992, and became the first player in the baseball program’s history to have his jersey retired in 1992.
Willis was pitching coach for the Seattle Mariners from 2010-13, and held the same role with Cleveland Indians from 2003-09. He worked alongside current Red Sox Manager John Farrell during his time in Cleveland.
Boston is 18-20 on the year and in fourth place in the American League (AL) East division, with a 4.64 ERA, second highest in the AL. He took over for Juan Nieves, who helped guide the Red Sox to a World Series in his first season in 2013. Boston has struggled atop the rotation this season and its starting staff has one of the highest earned run averages in baseball.