By JOSHUA KUMMINS The 2012 season for the Boston Red Sox did not go exactly as planned with manager Bobby Valentine at the helm, as the team finished with a losing record for the first time since 1997. However, the "Hot Stove season" has been very busy for general manager Ben Cherington and his staff as the team made several acquisitions to help strengthen the roster for the upcoming season, which begins in just about two months when the first players report to Fort Myers, Florida for Spring Training. Valentine's replacement was first on the agenda and a familiar name was hired to take his post on Oct. 21, 2012. Former Red Sox pitching coach John Farrell was named the 46th skipper in team history, returning to Boston after a couple years managing up north with the rival Toronto Blue Jays. A familiarity to the system through previous experience certainly helps when hiring a new coach or manager, so Red Sox Nation is holding its collective breath that their third manager in the last three seasons will bring success and a playoff run next October. With a new manager comes a change in the rest of the staff and two of the top "assistants" are also familiar names and very good additions to Boston's Major League staff. First base coach Arnie Beyeler was promoted from Triple-A Pawtucket, where he led the PawSox to the International League Governor's Cup title this past season. Bench coach Torey Lovullo joins Farrell from his Toronto staff and was also a previous PawSox manager - a fan favorite with the fans in Rhode Island during his one season in 2010. The beginning of December saw the baseball focus shift to the annual Winter Meetings in Nashville, Tennessee and the Red Sox were able to sign a pair of pieces that will instantly contribute to the starting line-up - outfielder Shane Victorino from Philadelphia and catcher/first baseman Mike Napoli from Texas. Victorino's defense in right field will be a major asset for Boston as the position has struggled to find consistency over the past several seasons, while Napoli's offensive capabilities, combined with those of designated hitter David Ortiz, could create a lethal combination for fans to see at Fenway in the future. With the offensive side pretty well settled for the time being, the search begins for more help in the starting pitching department. The pitching staff combined to post a 4.70 earned run average last season, which was fourth-worst in all of Major League Baseball. On Dec. 6, 2012, the Red Sox added reliever Koji Uehara to the bullpen, who also spent last season with Texas, but became a free agent at the end of the season. Spring Training is officially set to commence in just about two months (Feb. 12, 2013), so the team will look to have all the pieces in place to make 2013 a successful season, with hopes of bringing a World Series title back to Boston.

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