Take two: Epstein embraces Cubs' challenge


Take two: Epstein embraces Cubs' challenge

Theo Epstein has two enduring memories from his days with the Red Sox.

"First thing was helping to build a scouting and player development machine from the ground floor . . . " he said. "And the other great thing, probably the best thing about being with the Red Sox, was playing a small part of winning that World Series in 2004 and breaking the Sox' 86-year championship drought and getting to see the looks on peoples' faces, the joy it brought them . . . It really impacted a whole region of the country and generations of families . . ."

And now he has chance to re-live them.

"The Cubs opportunity provides me a forum, provides us a forum, to do both those things," he said.

The long-rumored move is now complete, and Epstein greeted the media Tuesday for the first time as director of Baseball Operations for the Chicago Cubs. "It truly feels great to be a Cub today," he said.

The challenges facing him are more daunting than the ones he overcame when he was named general manager of the Red Sox nearly nine years ago. For one thing, the Cubs have gone even longer between World Series triumphs -- 103 years and counting -- than the Sox. For another, the talent cupboard is far thinner in Chicago than it was when he took over in Boston.

Daunting, yes . . . but invigorating, as well.

"We are ready," he said. "And we are hungry."

As he wrote in an op-ed piece that ran in Tuesday's Boston Globe, Epstein said he feels that organizations and individuals benefit from change every 10 years. After nine years as Red Sox GM, and 10 years in the Sox' organization, the opening of the Cubs' job occurred at just the right time.

"I had a great 10 years with the Red Sox," he said, adding: "I would never trade that experience . . . But . . . I was ready for the next big challenge, and this is certainly the ultimate challenge."

Later, he added: "I had some skepticism about taking the Cubs job going in, because I had such a great situation in Boston . . . but the more I learned about the situation in Chicago, the more interested I was."

His blueprint for success will mirror the methods that worked well in Boston. Among them:

The use of all analytical methods, traditional and progressive, to help build a winning organization.

An effort to build a winning culture at the major-league level. "We'll have a clubhouse full of players who are proud to wear the Cubs uniform," he said.

Development of "a Cubs Way" for every level of the organization.

"Again, it won't be me doing it, he stressed. "It'll be all of us doing it."

He admitted the compensation issue for his services is still unsettled -- and may need commissioner Bud Selig's intervention for final resolution -- but said "the Cubs and Red Sox have a great working relationship" and he didn't anticipate it being a long-term issue. In fact, he had many kind words for his former employers in Boston.

"I want to thank Red Sox owners John Henry and Tom Werner and team president Larry Lucchino, not only for allowing this move to happen but for giving me my original opportunity as a GM nine years ago and for supporting me along the way, personally and professionally," he said. "Also, a quick thank you to Terry Francona, the players, all my co-workers and friends at the Red Sox, including the fans; thanks for all the great times there. I'm really proud of what we accomplished together, and I wish you nothing but the best going forward. Good luck today, Ben Cherington, his successor as GM."

"The Red Sox are in good hands."

He admitted, however, that the last few weeks were a bit strange.

"I felt like that guy in the movie 'Office Space' with the red stapler," he joked. "When I was at Fenway Park, I just kept showing up to work, and it was as if someone forget to tell me I didn't work there anymore. I did end up in the basement with just a cubicle and a stapler, and I knew it was time to go to Chicago."

And now it's time to move forward.

"I was so fortunate to spend a decade in the Red Sox organization, and I feel truly, truly honored to be a Cub today," he said, later adding:

"Baseball is better with tradition. Baseball is better with history. Baseball is better with fans who care. Baseball is better in the daytime. And baseball is better when you win. And that's why I'm here today."

Improved Matt Barnes dealing with much more than mechanics


Improved Matt Barnes dealing with much more than mechanics

BOSTON — Matt Barnes has been coping with more than just a few bad outings on the mound, and he’s asking for help.

The Red Sox set-up man made some mechanical corrections that paid off in the eighth inning Monday night, when he struck out all three Twins he faced in a 4-1 Red Sox win at Fenway Park.

“I just simplified the mechanics,” Barnes said afterward. “Two days ago, I was trying to get with more of an up, down, and out approach. I felt better in that outing. I know I gave up a run and walked the one guy, but I felt better around the zone. And then just kind of went into a slide step, doing what Andrew Miller was doing.”

Barnes allowed four runs spanning his previous three outings, retiring just four batters while walking five. But Barnes has had a lot more to worry about than just a brief professional rut. 

He’s been devoted to helping his girlfriend, Chelsea, through the unexpected loss of her father, who was diagnosed with cancer and suffered a stroke

"Her father passed away [May 27]. That’s why I wasn’t in Baltimore for the two days [in early June], I was at his funeral,” Barnes said. "It’s tough, dealing with that, and she’s obviously having a hard time with it. She’s got her good days and her bad days. But it’s not easy. He was sick for a little while, and unexpectedly passed a lot faster than anybody ever expected him to. So, it’s been tough. She’s been alright, considering.”

There are a ton of medical bills still to be paid. A fundraising page has been set up to help the family with some large medical bills, and Barnes has asked on Twitter for people to spread the word if they’re able to.

“I’ve been able to spend a lot of time with her which is nice,” Barnes said of his girlfriend. “Everybody who’s helped out with donations and spreading the page, I couldn’t be more grateful, and she couldn’t be more grateful.”

Barnes is a big leaguer, but he’s still young and making the major league minimum. For every $1,000 total donated, Barnes plans to send a signed baseball to a random donor.

“I felt like it was a nice way, if they’re going to help me out, I can at least do that in return for them,” Barnes said.

Sale gets 9 Ks, Moreland hits home run as Red Sox beat Twins, 4-1

Sale gets 9 Ks, Moreland hits home run as Red Sox beat Twins, 4-1

BOSTON -- The way Chris Sale and the Boston relievers were pitching, the Red Sox didn't need to score a lot.

Sale went 6 1/3 overpowering innings with nine strikeouts, Mitch Moreland hit a solo homer for the third straight game and the Red Sox beat the Minnesota Twins 4-1 on Monday in a matchup of two of the AL's top teams.

"When you've got him on the mound, all you need is a couple and he's going to do the rest," Moreland said. "Obviously, tonight was another example of that."

Dustin Pedroia had two hits and drove in a run and Moreland added a sacrifice fly for Boston, which kept pace with the New York Yankees atop the East.

The Red Sox started fast, grabbing a 2-0 lead just four batters into the first.

"When the guys score early for you, it's nice," Sale said. "It settles you down a little bit and allows you to throw strikes."

Coming off a three-game sweep in Cleveland that had jumped them over the Indians into first in the Central, the Twins' offense was stymied by Sale and three relievers. The loss coupled with Cleveland's win over Texas moved the Indians back a half-game ahead.

Sale (10-3) gave up one run and four hits, increasing his major-league strikeout total to 155. Craig Kimbrel pitched the ninth for his 21st save after Matt Barnes struck out three in the eighth. Heath Hembree faced one batter, getting a double play.

The 6-foot-6 Sale relied on his usual sharp-breaking slider and fastball in the mid-to-upper 90s to fan eight over the first six innings, getting the initial half dozen with his breaking pitch.

"It's what we've seen many times. He had a nice mix," Twins manager Paul Molitor said. "I think the biggest trouble we had was with that slider, especially down and in to righties."

Jose Berrios (7-2) allowed four runs and eight hits in 6 1/3 innings. Chris Gimenez had a solo homer for Minnesota.

"When you go against a guy like Chris Sale, you try to give 110 percent," Berrios said through a translator.

Boston jumped ahead when Moreland homered into the first row of Green Monster seats after the first run scored on a double-play grounder.

Berrios had given up just two runs in each of his previous four starts, and six of eight since being promoted on May 7.

Gimenez's homer completely left Fenway Park over the Monster.


Twins: Molitor said RHP Phil Hughes, on the 10-day disabled list since late May with biceps tenderness, "felt good" but the pitcher had hoped his velocity would be a bit higher. ... LHP Glen Perkins, on the DL with a shoulder strain, is expected to resume throwing again Tuesday after a setback about a week ago.

Red Sox: DH Hanley Ramirez was out with a sore left knee after getting hit by a pitch Sunday. ... 3B Pablo Sandoval, on the 10-day DL since June 20 with a left inner-ear infection, is slated to start a rehab stint with Triple-A Pawtucket on Tuesday. Manager John Farrell said there's no planned date for his return. ... Moreland fouled a ball that bounced and hit near his right eye.


Red Sox 3B Tzu-Wei Lin singled to right in his first major-league at-bat and first career start.

The 23-year-old from Taiwan played third on his country's national teams in 2009 and 2010. He's the second Taiwanese-born player to make Boston's major-league roster. Outfielder Che-Hsuan Lin was the other, in 2012.


Twins LF Eddie Rosario made three nice running, over-the-shoulder catches.


Infielder Jhonny Peralta reported to Triple-A Pawtucket on Monday. Boston signed him to a minor-league deal after he was released by St. Louis earlier this month.

The plan is to alternate him at third and DH with Sandoval.


The Twins sent RHP Dillon Gee back to Triple-A to make room for Tuesday's starter LHP Hector Santiago.


Twins: Santiago (4-6, 5.26 ERA) will be activated off the DL Tuesday. He's been sidelined since June 7 with a strained left shoulder.

Red Sox: LHP Drew Pomeranz (6-4, 4.07) looks to snap a three-start winless stretch.