McAdam: Cubs come calling for Epstein

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McAdam: Cubs come calling for Epstein

By Sean McAdam
CSNNE.com Red Sox Insider Follow @sean_mcadam
The exodus from Fenway Park could be far from over.

Days after Terry Francona parted ways with the Red Sox, the Sox are at risk of losing their general manager, Theo Epstein, too.

The Chicago Cubs contacted the Red Sox Tuesday to ask for permission to speak with Epstein about their GM vacancy, a baseball source confirmed. Another National League source confirmed Tuesday that Epstein is, indeed, owner Tom Ricketts's top choice to take over the Cubs, over other names thought to be on his initial list, including Billy Beane of the Oakland A's, Andrew Friedman of the Tampa Bay Rays and Brian Cashman of the New York Yankees.

Industry sources indicate the Red Sox are more likely than not to grant the Cubs permission.

Epstein has a year remaining on his contract. It's unknown whether the Red Sox will seek compensation should Epstein leave the Sox for the Cubs.

The Cubs' request was first reported by the Boston Globe.

Epstein has long told friends he doesn't intend to be general manager of the Red Sox forever and would, in time, welcome a new challenge.

Despite growing up in Brookline, Epstein would be open to moving out of the area and running another franchise.

At the same time, Epstein feels a deep loyalty to Red Sox ownership, and principal owner John Henry in particular, and would have reservations about leaving the team in its current state.

The Sox imploded in September and blew a nine-game lead for the American League wild-card spot to Tampa Bay on the final night of the season.

The team's downward spiral resulted in manager Terry Francona leaving the organization after eight seasons. Francona met with ownership Friday, when it was decided that he wouldn't return for team options for the 2012 and 2013 seasons.

The Sox have failed to qualify for the postseasons two years running, and those close to Epstein say he feels a certain responsibility to ownership to get the franchise turned around before leaving.

However, the appeal of running the Cubs may be a powerful lure. Chicago hasn't won a World Series since 1908 and hasn't won so much as a pennant since 1945.

Moreover, Henry feels a reciprocal loyalty to Epstein, and though his clear preference would be to have Epstein remain with the Red Sox for a long time, he would not stand in the way if Epstein indicated a willingness to listen to what the Cubs have to say.

A baseball source Tuesday dismissed any suggestion that Epstein could be convinced to stay with a new title or increased responsibilities within the Red Sox organization.

Epstein left the Red Sox for a period of three months after 2005 for, among other reasons, clashes with team president and CEO Larry Lucchino and a feeling that the team's business interests had become more important than putting a winning product on the field.

The relationship between Epstein and Lucchino isn't perfect, a source said, but it's no longer untenable and would not be a factor in Epstein seeking other opportunities outside the organization.

If Epstein were to direct both the Red Sox and Cubs to World Series titles, his place in baseball history would be assured, having ended two of the sport's longest championship droughts.

Sean McAdam can be reached at smcadam@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Sean on Twitter at http:twitter.comsean_mcadam.

David Price improves command, indicates he's pitching through ailment

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David Price improves command, indicates he's pitching through ailment

BOSTON — David Price and Rick Porcello showed improvement on back-to-back nights Friday and Saturday, important signs for the Red Sox after a difficult month for both pitchers prior to this homestand.

Price on Saturday night went six innings and allowed three runs, two earned, in a 6-3 loss to the Angels. He fanned five and his velocity has been consistently better this year than last year.

But the most important number was his walk total: one. He walked three batters in his previous start, and four in both of his starts prior.

“Two outings ago, the first start here in Fenway,” Sox manager John Farrell said. “There was better timing in his delivery and overall better separation over the rubber. And he carried that through I thought, even though there's a higher pitch count in Houston, and has been able to maintain it here. I can't say there was one specific thing. It's been more the timing over the rubber. And you're seeing him pitch out of the stretch exclusively. Just less moving parts in a better position to repeat it.”

After Price’s final inning, the telecast captured Price calling pitching coach Carl Willis into the tunnel. Neither Farrell nor Price detailed the conversation. 

“Yeah, everything was fine,” Farrell said of the conversation. “Everything is OK there.”

Price made it sound like he’s dealing with some sort of physical ailment, but was vague.

“There's a lot of stuff going on right now,” the pitcher said when asked about the desire to stay out there. “You don't want it to linger into the next start, or two or three weeks from now, and that's why we did what we did.”

Asked to elaborate, Price reinforced that the decision was to save his body for another day.

“You never want to come out of a game. But you have to look forward at the time,” Price said. “You don’t want today to cost you your next start or you know, the start after that. So that’s what happened.

“It has nothing to do with my elbow or anything like that. This is — you get past one thing and there’s another So that’s what it is.”

Price in New York in early June felt a blister develop on his ring finger. He missed an in-between start bullpen because of it.

Asked about the blister Saturday, Price said, “That one’s gone.”

Farrell indicated the blister was diminished, if not entirely gone.

“He's been dealing with that,” Farrell said. “I think while it's still present and maybe not as severe as it was when it first happened, I'm sure he's going to check on it occasionally."

Red Sox threaten late, but can't come back in 6-3 loss to Angels

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Red Sox threaten late, but can't come back in 6-3 loss to Angels

BOSTON - JC Ramirez rebounded from his shortest career start with six solid innings, Cameron Maybin doubled home a run and scored another and the Los Angeles Angels held off the Boston Red Sox 6-3 on Saturday night.

The Angels look for their fifth series win in their last six on Sunday.

Mitch Moreland hit a solo homer for the Red Sox, who lost for only the third time in their last 13 home games.

Ramirez (7-5) allowed one run and four hits with five strikeouts after lasting just three innings and giving up five runs in his previous start.

Blake Parker struck out pinch-hitter Chris Young with the bases loaded for the final out for his first save of the season after Boston scored twice in the ninth.

Red Sox manager John Farrell was ejected by third-base umpire and crew chief Bill Miller after Fernando Abad was called for a balk, scoring a run that made it 5-1 in the seventh.