FORT MYERS, Fla. Red Sox principal owner John Henry, chairman Tom Werner, and presidentCEO Larry Lucchino met with their players today before the start of the first official full-squad workout.
It was setting the tone of 2012, Lucchino said. It was a customary Opening Day meeting.
I would say that we talked about how proud we are to be involved with this organization, said Werner. They should feel proud that we have great fans and this is going to be a new chapter. I think we didnt spend too much time talking about 2011. Its a new chapter. We have a new spring training ballpark. Our fans are excited about this year. And I certainly think our players are motivated to play post-season baseball.
After the team went 7-20 in September to miss out on post-season baseball for the second consecutive season, with post-season reports of unseemly clubhouse behavior during the season, Lucchino was asked if he expected the team to be more focused in 2012.
That suggests that they were not focused last season, Lucchino said. So I dont subscribe to that notion as a generalization about the season. But looking forward to 2012, I do expect this team will be focused, highly motivated.
But, with all that happened at the end of the season and after, does the organization have an image problem?
I wouldn't put in those terms, Lucchino said. But I would say we feel collectively that we have something to prove in 2012. I think the players feel that way. I think our managers and coaches feel that way. I know general manager Ben Cherington and our baseball office feel that way. And I can say ownership feels that way as well.
We said that we accept our share of the responsibility for perhaps not having a more open-door policy, Werner said. I think we'll be more present this year. But in the end, I do think more has been written about this than the state of the union, so we're moving on. This is a new chapter. We've accepted some collective and individual responsibility.
I think they said enough, Henry said. I agree with what both Larry and Tom said.
It's a new chapter beginning today, said Lucchino. For us, we think of this as the beginning. The first day of the 2012 season is today. When we have this meeting, when everybody's in camp and we go to work as a unit and our idea is let's write this new chapter and enough has been said about the last chapter.
Henry asked if he is more focused on his Liverpool soccer team than the Red Sox.
It's difficult because I'm not here today, Henry said in jest. I'm somewhere else. If I were here today, I'd say this is about baseball. Today is about baseball. With us, every day is about baseball. We have other things, too. But every day, pretty much, I think we speak 365 days a year, maybe 364. But virtually every day there's something related to baseball.
Henry was then asked if he is more focused on baseball recently or if he has pulled back.
I think that it's been more recently than it has for a while because there's been more to attend to, he said. There's been a lot of changes.
But the Red Sox have not been to the playoffs since 2009, when they were swept in the ALDS by the Angels, and have not won a post-season series since the 2008 ALDS.
I'm not concerned about the direction of the organization, Henry said. I think we have the right direction. I've heard the term new chapter. I sort of felt like it's the next chapter. There's a real excitement here in camp. It's palpable. It's not just a new facility. There's a real excitement to be back at it again. I'm extremely happy with the leadership of this organization and the product we're going to have on the playing field and with the general attitude and atmosphere at the events this morning.
Asked if he would be more involved, Henry replied:
We're always involved. But there's been more to do. I think one of the things that we've done over the years is try to let your general manager do his job. You let the CEO do his job because they're qualified to do their jobs as managers. In that regard, there's not a lot to do. But when you're making changes along those lines, there's a lot to do.
Asked if his presence would make a difference, Henry replied:
I don't think it makes a difference for the players, really. I think what happens on the field, what happens when we were on our way to 100 wins or what happened in September, they're not thinking about 'Well, what's going on with ownership? where are they?' We're there. They see us. We're at every home game.