McAdam: Uncertainty mounts on Epstein's future

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McAdam: Uncertainty mounts on Epstein's future

By Sean McAdam
CSNNE.com Red Sox Insider Follow @sean_mcadam

Days after the Red Sox parted ways with manager Terry Francona, there is increasing speculation that, soon, the club may do the same with general manager Theo Epstein.

As rumors intensify that Epstein may be interested in listening to the Chicago Cubs, a strange silence is emanating from Fenway Park.

When speculation first arose that Epstein was at the top of the Cubs' list of choices to replace the fired Jim Hendry as general manager, the most frequent line around Fenway was: "John Henry will never let (Epstein) go."

Months later, the landscape has changed, and just maybe, so has Henry's stance.

Certainly, the Red Sox have had more than enough opportunities to make this a non-issue. Days after reports about the Cubs having interest in Epstein surfaced, Henry sent an e-mail to inquiring reporters, noting that such speculation was pretty standard stuff and evidence of Epstein's reputation throughout the industry.

Had Henry been more pointed and noted that Epstein was under contract to the Red Sox through the end of 2012, and that Henry hoped and expected Epstein to continue as the club's GM for years to come, the speculation would have stopped then and there.

But Henry wasn't nearly that assertive. So the issue didn't die.

Then, last Friday, as CEO Larry Lucchino and chairman Tom Werner fidgeted uncomfortably during a press conference, the question was asked again: Would the Red Sox give the Cubs permission to speak with Epstein.

Improbably, Lucchino looked like he had been struck by a bolt of lightning, apparently caught completely off-guard that during a press conference to announce the Sox severing ties with their manager, that someone night happen to inquire about the job status of the man who hired that manager.

Lucchino said it wasn't the time to discuss Epstein's future and that the focus of the press conference was squarely on Francona.

Werner than stepped in and fumbled through a response that was more of a non-sequitor.

"We feel collectively that he's one of the best managers in baseball," said Werner, "and has been integral to the success of our club for the last 10 years."

Swell, but no one was asking for a summation of Epstein's tenure. The question was about whether he would be allowed to talk to another prospective employer.

Again, nothing definitive, nothing that would slam the door on such speculation.

Epstein's current deal runs out after 2012, meaning the Red Sox have two choices: Allow Epstein to interview with the Cubs, or give him an extension which locks him up for at least two seasons beyond 2012.

If the Sox are willing to let Epstein go elsewhere, they should get on with the business for preparing for life without him. Finding a manager is going to be challenging enough; if ownership has to first find a general manager, and then the newly-minted GM has to hire a manager, it will be mid-November before all the pieces are in place.

If, on the other hand, ownership is intent on keeping Epstein, then an extension for Epstein is necessary. It would be impractical and unfair to allow Epstein to conduct the managerial search with his own future in doubt.

What potential manager wouldn't be wondering: What happens if the guy who hires me is out of a job in a year?

It's a logical enough question, one ownership hasn't given much consideration.

Epstein hasn't spoken to reporters since Friday and didn't return numerous calls. A person who spoke to Epstein over the weekend was asked if he thought Epstein would indeed leave for the Cubs.

"I don't think so," said the person. "But at this point, I don't know if anyone knows for sure."

And the longer the silence continues on Yawkey Way, the more uncertain the winter of the Red Sox' discontent becomes.

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

Quotes, notes and stars: Betts belts three home runs

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Quotes, notes and stars: Betts belts three home runs

Quotes, notes and stars from the Red Sox' 6-2 win over the Orioles.

 

QUOTES

"If he has a boy, he ought to make him Mookie after tonight's outing.'' - John Farrell on Jackie Bradley Jr., who left the team for a paternity leave after Mookie Betts slugged three homers.

"I know each day that I've got it. I wake up, I know I have it. I come to the field, I know I have it.'' - Xander Bogaerts on his ongoing hitting streak.

"He's probably one of the few guys, every time I see him hit, I think he's going to hit a homer. He's just that presence that he has in the batter's box.'' - Bogaerts on Betts.

"This is probably my best night; first time I've ever done that.'' - Betts, when asked where the game ranks individually for him in his career.

"I wanted to locate the heater good, not force it too much, don't try to throw hard - just try to throw strikes.'' - Eduardo Rodriguez on his season debut.

 

NOTES:

* Xander Bogaerts extended his hitting streak to 24 games, second-longest in baseball this season.

* Bogaerts has hit safely in 36-of-38 games at a .399 clip with 33 runs scored and 23 driven in.

* Eduardo Rodriguez two runs or fewer in each of his three career starts at Camden Yards.

* The Sox had back-to-back homers (Mookie Betts and Dustin Pedroia) for the first time this season.

* Mookie Betts had a three-homer game for the first time in his career.

* Betts became the first Red Sox player to homer three times in the same game since Will Middlebrooks did so on April 7, 2013.

* The last time the Sox began a game with back-to-back homers was July 27, 2011 when Jacoby Ellsbury and Pedroia did so.

* The Red Sox scored multiple runs in the first inning for the 20th time in 51 games.

* David Ortiz extended his own hit streak to eight games.

 

STARS:

1) Mookie Betts

Betts belted three homers -- one to left, one to center and one to right -- for the first time in his career and also contributed a brilliant diving catch in right in the seventh inning.

2) Eduardo Rodriguez

Rodriguez made his season debut and allowed two runs on six hits through six innings and didn't issue a single walk while fanning three.

3) Chris Young

Getting a rare start in center, Young made a spectacular catch to likely rob Manny Machado of a two-run homer, while drawing a walk and adding a single and a run scored.

 

First impressions: A good start for Rodriguez in 6-2 win

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First impressions: A good start for Rodriguez in 6-2 win

BALTIMORE -- First impressions from the Red Sox' 6-2 win over the Baltimore Orioles:

 

Eduardo Rodriguez's first start of the season was a good one.

Rodriguez, making his 2016 debut after a freak knee injury suffered at the beginning of spring training, tossed six innings and allowed two runs on five hits.

He flashed his trademark changeup on a number of occasions, getting a handful of swing-and-misses with it. His fastball velocity, which had been questionable in his rehab outings, was slightly improved.

He wasn't as efficient as the Red Sox would have liked, needing 89 pitches to get through six innings. But again, for his first start, there was little about which to complain.

 

Betts had a decent night at the plate.

Betts cracked three homers for five RBI, nearly single-handedly doing enough offensively to beat the Orioles.

He homered to center in the first, down the left field line in the second and, finally, to right field in the seventh to become the 27th player in Red Sox history to homer three times in one game.

Hitting at the top of the lineup, Betts is on pace to hit 36 homers and knock in more than a 120 runs. The power he generates from a relatively small frame is something to behold.

Betts is now second on the team in RBI -- again, from the top spot in the order, though that's been aided by the fact that Jackie Bradley Jr. has hit eighth or ninth for much of the season, providing Betts with plenty of RBI opportunities.

 

The Chris Young experiment in center worked well for the first night. With Jackie Bradley Jr. on paternity leave, the Sox will keep Mookie Betts in right and have Young play center.

Young was once a full-time center fielder earlier in his career, but in recent years, has been viewed by most as more of a corner outfielder, perhaps without the range to play center.

But Tuesday night, Young did a nice job chasing down a ball hit to the warning track by Adam Jones in the third, then capped it two batters later when he leaped above the wall in center and took away what was likely a two-run homer by Manny Machado.

 

Robbie Ross Jr. has been an overlooked part of the bullpen.

With improved velocity on his fastball, Ross has 24 strikeouts in 19 1/3 innings.

Moreover, Ross has allowed just two earned runs over his last 12 games and since April 17 -- about six weeks ago -- he has an ERA of 1.23.

Thought of as a low-leverage long man early in the season, he's earned the trust of the Red Sox to be used in more high-leverage spots as the season has developed.

 

Tuesday's Red Sox-Orioles lineups: E-Rod makes 2016 debut

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Tuesday's Red Sox-Orioles lineups: E-Rod makes 2016 debut

Eduardo Rodriguez makes his 2016 Red Sox debut tonight, and he'll have a different center fielder as he does so.

Jackie Bradley Jr. on paternity leave and Chris Young is taking his place in center. The rest of the lineup, however, remains intact as the Sox face the Orioles in their second game of their four-game series in Baltimore.

The lineups:

RED SOX:
Mookie Betts RF
Dustin Pedroia 2B
Xander Bogaerts SS
David Ortiz DH
Hanley Ramirez 1B
Travis Shaw 3B
Chris Young CF
Blake Swihart LF
Christian Vazquez C
---
Eduardo Rodriguez P

ORIOLES:
Adam Jones CF
Nolan Reimold LF
Manny Machado SS
Chris Davis 1B
Mark Trumbo DH
Matt Wieters C
Jonathan Schoop 2B
Joey Rickard RF
Paul Janish 3B
---
Kevin Gausman P