Lucchino predicts sellout streak will 'rest in peace'

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Lucchino predicts sellout streak will 'rest in peace'

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Earlier this week, principal owner John Henry addressed the media and gave his thoughts on the Red Sox' recent past, present and future.

On a rainy Thursday afternoon, it was president and CEO Larry Lucchino's turn to address a wide range of topics, at times defensive, and other times defiant.

Among the highlights:

On the future of free agent-to-be Jacoby Ellsbury: "Would we like to have him here? Yes. Do I think there will some negotiations that will take place during the course of the year or perhaps sooner? Possibly. I wouldn't rule anything out. But we'd very much like to have him here and like to have him be part of a core Red Sox team. But I don't think it's appropriate to have too much of a discussion about the negotiation process right now and in this forum.

On the club getting away from its core philosophy: "I think there was a kind of deviation from that somewhere along the way."

On new manager John Farrell: "He commands respect. He also has a skill set that's particularly important to this team -- his pitching expertise. He's an honest guy. I think he'll be an outstanding Red Sox manager."

On the persistent sale rumors: "We tried to say to those who asked that it was a false rumor. We didn't know where it came from. But if it's repeated a couple of times, it tends to gain a little credence. It's never been a consideration. I've never been in a meeting where anyone discussed with John or Tom the idea of us selling this team. (Owning the Sox) is a labor of love."

On ownership's commitment to the team: "We've spent our money. We're concerned about generating revenue, make no mistake about that, and we're not apologetic or embarrassed about that. But the revenue goes into the ballclub. It goes into the payroll, it goes into the amateur signing bonuses, it goes into the machinery of the club. It doesn't go out to private bank accounts . . . You can look at the payrolls, the increase in signing bonuses, the increase in foreign player signings, you can look at the size of the Baseball Operations staff when we needed them. We generate money because we need to to have the kind of winning baseball team that we want to have."

On defying expectations and exceeding what some expect for the club in 2013: "I actually like being the underdog. The fact that the media and the sports pundits picks us in the lower reaches of the American League East is in some ways challenging and comforting. Because it wasn't that long ago that some people in this room talked about (the Sox being) the greatest team of all time, a hundred victory season and all of that. They were wrong then, as many of them are wrong now. We're going to be a competitive team."

On the sellout streak at Fenway: "It's going to rest in peace sometime in April, I suspect. But that's not such a terrible thing. It's an extraordinary accomplishment . . . I would point you to one fact: Over the last 11 years, we have sold 99.6 percent of the available seating capacity over the last 11 years . . . That, by itself, putting aside definitions, semantics -- that by itself is extraordinary."

On ticket sales: "Ticket sales are more challenging this year than they have been since the very first year we were here. There may be a reduction on ticket revenue. I don't think that's going to affect us. If we have the successful team that I think we'll have, I do think people will jump back into the ballpark, albeit at a later time than they have historically. I don't want to predict too much of a downturn yet, but I do know it's a possibility."

On competing for high-end free agents: "We certainly can shop there and we'll always shop there. The question is how active will we be in that market? We'll look for deals that make sense. And we'll make exceptions, too. But one of the lessons we learned from recent years is that we'd rather pay a little bit more on a short-term deal than a multi-year contract that goes out five, six, seven, eight years. We appreciate the flexibility and we think it's better for the inevitable kind of reloading that eventually a club has to do periodically."

On off-season regrets: "I was always a big Cody Ross fan. At one point, we were joking at a meeting that I should wear a Cody Ross jersey to the next meeting because I was so eager to see us reach out to him. I have great fondness for him and a lot of respect for him and I do wish him great success."

Report: Trump won't throw out first pitch

Report: Trump won't throw out first pitch

One White House tradition will have to wait, if it’s in fact maintained.

President Donald Trump is not going to throw out a ceremonial first pitch for the Washington Nationals this season, according to the Washington Post.

Post reporter Barry Svrugula wrote on Twitter on Tuesday that the White House declined an invitation from the Nats.

POLITICO reported early Tuesday morning that Trump was in talks to throw out the first pitch and that it was also possible he could spend an inning in the MASN booth.

President William Howard Taft began the custom of U.S. presidents throwing out a first pitch on April 14, 1910, at National Stadium in D.C.

According to The Week:

“Since Taft, every president not named Jimmy Carter has thrown out at least one Opening Day first pitch. The executive guests of honor followed in Taft's hefty footsteps, throwing the first ball from the stands, until the late 1980s when Ronald Reagan sauntered onto the mound and improved upon the tradition."

The most famous presidential pitch in recent memory is George W. Bush’s toss during the 2001 World Series at Yankee Stadium.

The Nats open their season on Monday at home in Washington D.C., in a 1:05 p.m. game against the Miami Marlins. A Nationals Magic 8 Ball is to be given away to the first 20,000 fans.

The Red Sox happen to play the Nats in a pair of exhibitions right before the season, on Friday and Saturday. Friday’s game is at the Nats’ home park in D.C. Saturday’s game is to be played in Annapolis, Md., at the U.S. Naval Academy.

Christian Vazquez or Sandy Leon...who's the starting catcher?

Christian Vazquez or Sandy Leon...who's the starting catcher?

Evan Drellich talks with Toucher and Rich about who the starting catcher will be and should be for the Red Sox. Christian Vazquez appears to be all the way back from Tommy John surgery. Can he hit?