Boston Red Sox

Epstein: Sox clubhouse reports 'exaggerated'

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Epstein: Sox clubhouse reports 'exaggerated'

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.

In other highlights . . .

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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Red Sox move closer to AL East title with 5-0 win over Reds

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Red Sox move closer to AL East title with 5-0 win over Reds

CINCINNATI - Mitch Moreland ended his long slump with a three-run homer, Eduardo Rodriguez pitched three-hit ball into the eighth inning, and the Boston Red Sox took another step toward a second straight AL East title, beating the Cincinnati Reds 5-0 on Saturday.

Boston has won 13 of 16, holding off the Yankees as it tries to win back-to-back East titles for the first time since divisional realignment in 1969. The Red Sox have their best record of the season at 90-64, reaching 90 wins for the second year in a row.

They remain four games in front of the Yankees, who beat Toronto 5-1.

Moreland was in an 0-for-19 slump when he connected off Robert Stephenson (5-6) in the sixth inning, his 20th homer of the season but only his second in September. The Red Sox are last in the AL with 160 homers.

Rodriguez (6-6) has given up two or fewer earned runs in each of his last four starts, the best stretch of his career. The left-hander gave up three singles and two walks in 7 2/3 innings, his longest outing since May 21.

The Red Sox have shutout victories in three of their last four games, including two at Baltimore. They are 7-1 on a trip that ends Sunday. Boston wraps up the regular season at Fenway Park with three games against Toronto and four against Houston.

Red Sox outfielder Andrew Benintendi, who grew up in suburban Madeira and had hundreds of relatives and friends in the stands for the series, singled home a run in the seventh at the ballpark where he regularly attended games as a youth.

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Betts (foot), Pedroia (knee) out of Red Sox lineup

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Betts (foot), Pedroia (knee) out of Red Sox lineup

Mookie Betts, who fouled a ball off his left foot Friday night, and Dustin Pedroia, who has been bothered by a knee injury almost all season, were out of the Red Sox lineup Saturday against the Reds in Cincinnati.

Chris Young started in right field for Betts and Brock Holt at second base for Pedroia.

Betts was scratched from the original lineup but was a late scratch. Pedroia, who had been getting intermittent days off to rest his knee was originally expected to play but needed treatement and hopes to be able to play Sunday, according to Scott Lauber of ESPN. 

Manager John Farrell told reporters, including Christopher Smith of MassLive.com, that Betts "was hindered by it last night in the second half of that game. [He] woke up a little bit more sore. Went through treatment. But felt it was best to give him a day to fully recover and get some additional treatment."

The manager added that Betts was available to pinch hit Saturday and did not have X-rays, but that step could be taken if there's no improvement in the next 24 hours.