Theo Epstein said that while some reports about the Red Sox' clubhouse behavior at the end of the year "is accurate", some is "an exaggeration."
"This was not a team-wide, there were not team-wide indulgences. There was not team-wide apathy," Epstein told reporters in individual interviews after his introductory press conference as Cubs' president of Baseball Operations. His remarks were reported by Alex Speier of WEEI.com.
"There were some things that happened that should never happen in a big-league clubhouse, and ultimately, Im the person whos responsible . . . This has almost been a bit of a witch hunt in recent weeks. Its what happens when you dont make the playoffs in these types of circumstances. I feel bad for many of the Red Sox players, who I know were professional, worked really hard, cared about each other and cared about the organization.
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Epstein said he "probably" would have stayed in Boston for the final year of his contract if ownership had retained Terry Francona as manager. But Francona's option wasn't picked up, and Epstein -- knowing 2012 would be his final year no matter what -- felt uncomfortable leading the search for a new manager, since he knew he would only work with him for one season.
At Ben Cherington's press conference later in the day, Larry Lucchino responded to Epstein's comment.
He said he asked owners John Henry and Tom Werner not to offer him a contract extension as general manager.
He also said Werner and Henry were willing to keep him in the organization in virtually any role he wanted.
"John and Tom were kind enough at some point late in the summer to tell me that they wanted me to stay with the Red Sox, to stay with Fenway Sports Group in any capacity I could imagine," said Epstein. "I could tailor my role or do what I wanted.
"It meant a lot to me. I was really appreciative. But the more that I looked at it, the more that I realized that if youre not leading the baseball operation, if youve been a GM and go into a situation where you have some sort of hybrid role, or youre a special assistant or you get more involved in the business side, or more involved in soccer, youre essentially doing the same job but getting in the way a little bit more."
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