Report: Lucchino playing hardball with Cubs

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Report: Lucchino playing hardball with Cubs

Apparently, the ruptured relationship between Theo Epstein and Larry Lucchino has become a major stumbling block in Epstein's desire to leave the Red Sox for the Cubs.

Our Comcast SportsNetNBC Sports colleague, David Kaplan of CSN Chicago, reported Saturday that "negotiations between the Cubs and the Boston Red Sox have turned increasingly contentious" over compensation for Epstein, and that the Cubs "have dug in their heels" against what the Sox are demanding in return for letting their general manager out of the final year of his Boston contract.

To further complicate matters, Kaplan's sources say Lucchino -- who, as president and CEO, is heading the Red Sox' side of the talks -- "is trying to make it very difficult for Epstein to accept his dream situation in Chicago because of his fractured relationship with his one-time protege".

"The Red Sox hold the cards here because they have their new GM in Ben Cherington and they control Theo for the next 12 months," a baseball executive told Kaplan. "If they want, they can force Theo to stay in Boston or on the sidelines for the next year. Can the Cubs go without a GM for the next 12 months? That would be an incredibly gutsy move but also a very risky one . . .

"Larry Lucchino is one of the most unreasonable people I have ever dealt with and, because of his frayed relationship with Theo Epstein, he is looking to make a point at the expense of Theo's happiness and his desire to go to Chicago. I didn't believe that ownership group for one second when they said that they wouldn't stand in Theo's way if he wanted out of Boston. They are furious that he wants out and they are trying to make a point."

According to earlier reports in various media outlets, the Cubs were looking to compensate the Red Sox with cash while the Sox were looking for prospects. In addition, the Red Sox are attempting to prevent Epstein from taking any of his Boston assistants to Chicago.

As expected, Red Sox send Swihart to Pawtucket

As expected, Red Sox send Swihart to Pawtucket

Blake Swihart wasn't going to win a job. Monday merely made that official.

Swihart was optioned out as the Red Sox made further cuts, sending a player who could still be the Red Sox catcher of the future -- well, one of them anyway -- to Triple-A Pawtucket, where he's expected to work on his receiving.

Swihart hit .325 in 40 Grapefruit League at-bats.

"Had a very strong camp and showed improvements defensively. Swung the bat very well," manager John Farrell told reporters in Florida.  "For the player that he is and the person that he is, you love him as a person. He's a hell of a talented player.

"He made some subtle adjustments with his setup [defensively]. That gave him a different look to pitchers on the mound. Pitchers talked positively about the look that they got from him behind the plate. I think it softened his hands somewhat to receive the ball better. And there were a number of occasions where he was able to get a pitchers' pitch called for a strike, so the presentation of the umpire was a little bit more subtle and consistent then maybe years' past."

Sandy Leon's hot hitting in 2016 earned him an automatic crack at the lead catching spot for this year. Combined with the fact that Christian Vazquez looks great defensively, went deep on Sunday and is out of options, Swihart was the obvious odd man out.

He had options, the others didn't.

Deven Marrero was also optioned to Pawtucket. Sam Travis -- who, like Swihart, could break camp with the 2018 team -- was reassigned to minor-league camp, as was catcher Dan Butler.

The Sox have 38 players left in camp, 32 from the 40-man roster.

Red Sox reliever Tyler Thornburg appears headed to disabled list

Red Sox reliever Tyler Thornburg appears headed to disabled list

Tyler Thornburg might be joining David Price on the disabled list to start the season.
 
Thornburg, the biggest acquisition Red Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski made for the bullpen this winter, was scratched Monday because of a spasm in his upper right trapezius — not a great sign for a pitcher who already had throwing shoulder issues this spring.
 
Thornburg, acquired in the trade that sent Travis Shaw to the Milwaukee Brewers, had barely enough time to get ready for Opening Day prior to Monday’s setback. If he indeed starts the season on the DL, Joe Kelly would be the eighth-inning reliever for the Sox — a role Kelly was headed for anyway given Thornburg’s shaky spring.