Owners thank Francona, prepare search for successor

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Owners thank Francona, prepare search for successor

By Maureen Mullen
CSNNE.com Follow @maureenamullen
BOSTON -- When he met with the media a little over an hour earlier on Friday evening, now-former Red Sox manager Terry Francona expressed his uncertainty in the degree of support he received from the teams ownership.

But, CEO Larry Lucchino and chairman Tom Werner, in a separate meeting with the media, expressed their surprise at those sentiments. (Principal owner John Henry was not in attendance, after suffering an injury on board his yacht in the afternoon.)

"I was actually puzzled by that comment, Lucchino said. We have done nothing differently this year than we have done in previous years. I think its a question you'd probably have to ask him. I thought he did an exceptional job in conveying the strength of his feelings and his frustrations and his fatigue with the situation here in Boston. But I must confess to being a little puzzled by about what was different this year from previous years.

Lucchino, Werner, Henry, general manager Theo Epstein, and assistant GM Ben Cherington met with Francona on Friday morning. Early Friday afternoon the Sox released a statement from Epstein saying there are no immediate plans for an announcement on Franconas future. By early evening that had all changed.

Francona said it was his decision to part ways with the team.

Just speaking for myself, said Werner, we came to this meeting today really wanting to hear Terrys point of view about what went right this year, what went wrong this year. And he expressed the feeling when we asked him that he felt that we did need a new voice. After that we tried to slow the train down a bit and just asked Terry to think about it over the weekend. But as he said in his press conference, I think he made up his mind and so thats how this was resolved."

Francona felt a change of culture was needed on the team and in the clubhouse, with Epstein asking Francona if he could be the person to bring about that change.

He said that he thought it was time to move on, Epstein said. He thought it was best for a new voice. Sometimes, he said, after youve done it for eight years, sometimes the players just need to hear a new voice. And I think it takes a lot of maturity and perspective to actually come to that conclusion.

I was disappointed. I think he was disappointed. But the reality is I think he felt that somebody else might do a better job of reaching the players and improving that clubhouse culture.

Asked how that culture can be changed now, with Franconas departure complete, Epstein replied:

I think some new leadership. I think that certain players we have that are leaders can step up and raise the level of their leadership even more. With a new manager its going to be an opportunity for new leadership in the clubhouse, too. I think we could have more accountability down there. We could, its our goal to have the best prepared team the best conditioned team, the team thats ready to go out, take advantage of the opponents' weaknesses, go out and play fearless baseball night in and night out.

I dont think we accomplished that across the board this year. So there are going to be some systemic changes in areas that we can make improvements. But it's also going to take some new leadership. A new leader whether its in the form of a player or a new manager will get people to follow him and will raise our level and meet those high standards that we have."

Now, the Sox must fill the managers job for the first time since 2004 the season in which they won the World Series for the first time in 86 years. Who that person will be remains to be seen.

I also think its premature to answer that question because we havent made any effort to sit down and list qualities, Lucchino said. We didnt anticipate at this point we were going to be in this exact position. We made no efforts to discuss alternatives at this point. So its not happened yet. But well sit down and have that discussion.

Franconas departure leaves the future of the coaching staff in question.

You always want to make sure the manager has ability to bring in some of his own guys, Epstein said. I told the coaches how much I appreciate their effort and theyre going to get my strong recommendation in many cases to the new manager, but that we cant have final resolution on the coaching staff until we get the new manager in place.

Maureen Mullen is on Twitter at http:twitter.commaureenamullen

McAdam: Price not exactly hitting stride with postseason on horizon

McAdam: Price not exactly hitting stride with postseason on horizon

NEW YORK -- The division title was there for the taking Tuesday night at Yankee Stadium. When you've won 11 straight and steamrolled every other team in the division, what's one more?

One too many, apparently.

The Red Sox' 6-4 defeat to the New York Yankees postponed the Champagne party for at least one night. In and of itself, that's not a huge concern. The Sox' magic number remains one with five games to play and the club's epic hot streak had to come to an end eventually.

A better night by either David -- Ortiz or Price -- might have resulted in corks popping and on-field celebrations.

Ortiz was 0-for-5 and stranded a total of seven baserunners. When he came to the plate in the top of the ninth against Tyler Clippard with two outs and two on, it almost seemed scripted.

Here was Ortiz in his final Yankee Stadium series, about to inflict one final bit of misery on the rival Yankees with a three-run homer in the top of the ninth.

Talk about drama. Talk about one more famous, final scene.

Alas, Ortiz took some feeble swings and swung through strike three for the final out. Not even Ortiz, for all his clutch performances, can conjure a game-winner on-demand every time.

A far bigger concern was the work of Price. Perhaps the best thing than can be said of him for now is that he almost certainly will not have to face the Yankees again this season, against whom he's compiled a gaudy 7.89 ERA this season.

More troubling, though, is that Price is not exactly hitting his stride as the postseason appears on the near horizon. In his last three starts combined, Price has pitched 19 1/3 innings and allowed 27 hits and 14 runs.

That isn't the line of someone at peak form at the right time. To the contrary, after a run of outings in which it again appeared Price had figured everything out, he's regressed in his last three.

Most troubling Tuesday was a repeated inability to turn back the Yankees after his team had pulled close on the scoreboard.

Price spotted the Yankees a 3-0 lead, and the Sox finally scored twice in the top of the 6th to close within one at 3-2. But Price quickly gave anther run back in the bottom of the inning.

Then the Sox scored two more times in the seventh to tie things at 4-4. . . but Price gave the two runs right back in the bottom of the inning.

"Very frustrating,'' sighed Price. "It's something I talk about all the time. It's a very big deal. And it's something I feel like I've struggled with this entire year. Whenever you're going good, it's something you're doing very well. And whenever you're going bad...you get a lead, give it right back. . . that's tough.''

It also doesn't portend well for the postseason, where Price, as you may have heard, has a spotty track record.

With some strong starts in the final few weeks, he could have reached the playoffs with both momentum and confidence.

Instead, he's got one more start -- Sunday -- to straighten things out.

Ortiz? His postseason bona fides are set.

Price, meanwhile, has no such reservoir of success upon which to draw. And starts like Tuesday's only reinforce the doubts.

 

Quotes, notes and stars: Ortiz goes 0-for-5 in loss to Yankees

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Quotes, notes and stars: Ortiz goes 0-for-5 in loss to Yankees

NEW YORK -- Quotes, notes and stars from the Red Sox' 6-4 loss to the Yankees:

 

QUOTES:

"I went 0-for-5 today, so I ain't got (anything) to talk about.'' - David Ortiz after turning around and seeing a small army of reporters waiting for him in front of his locker.

"To have a chance to clinch the division for us here (and come up sort), it's not acceptable. If my offense scores me four runs, I feel like I should be able to go out there and win.'' - David Price.

"The bottom line story to this one was (Price) mislocating within the strike zone.'' - John Farrell.

 

NOTES:

* Boston's season-best 11-game win streak was snapped with the loss.

* David Price took his first loss since Aug. 7.

* Price is 1-3 with a 7.89 ERA against the Yankees this season.

* Aaron Hill contributed his first pinch-hit homer in his career.

* Mookie Betts saw his streak of reaching base in 38 straight road games stopped.

* Dustin Pedroia posted his third straight multi-hit game.

* For the 20th time this season, Xander Bogaerts enjoyed a three-hit game.

* In his last 12 games, Andrew Benintendi has eight extra-base hits.

* Hill's pinch-hit homer was the third by the Red Sox this month.

 

STARS:

1) Tyler Austin

The rookie first baseman snapped a 4-4 tie in the seventh with a two-run homer and also added two more hits in three at-bats.

2) Gary Sanchez

The first-year catcher continues to amaze, hitting his 20th homer in only his 51st game, sending the Yanks out to a quick 2-0 lead in the first inning.

3) Luis Cessa

Cessa took a big step forward from his last start against the Red Sox by keeping them scoreless through the first five innings before allowing two runs in the sixth.