Players thank Red Sox ownership for offseason moves

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Players thank Red Sox ownership for offseason moves

By Sean McAdam
CSNNE.com

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Ordinarily, when management and ownership address the Red Sox players prior to the first full squad workout, it's an upbeat affair.

Optimism reigns and the season is full of possibilities. But Saturday morning, at the Red Sox' Player Development Complex, it was a virtual love-in. Players gave principal owner John Henry, chairman Tom Werner and president Larry Lucchino a standing ovation, in an apparent thanks for the moves made and the money spent this offseason.

In all, it was a morning of high hopes and good feeling all around.

"We're tremendously excited,'' said Werner.

"There's very definitely a sense of confidence, a sense of optimism,'' echoed Lucchino. "You feel it when you first walk into camp and talk to individual players. The meeting today had that kind of feel to it today. But everyone knows that hope springs eternal every spring. We've got to make sure we're healthy and that the good luck and randomness in the game work in our favor as well.

"But there's an atmosphere here that is extremely positive, confident and upbeat that's very encouraging.''

Other items of interest:

Lucchino said the the Red Sox paid about 85 million into the MLB central fund in revenue sharing last year, a figure topped only by the Yankees. That figure doesn't include another 1.3 million in luxury tax assessments for going over the payroll threshold.

With the final round of renovations of Fenway Park nearing completition, the Sox have invested about 285 million over the last 10 years.

Lucchino said structural engineers told him that Fenway, which celebrates its 100th anniversary next season, can last another 40-50 years.

"That's the life expectancy,'' said Lucchino. "Whether somebody chooses in 10 years time to make a change would be up to a different ownership.''

Disputing the commonly-held belief that the Sox are the clear favorites to win the American League East, Henry said: "I don't see us as the clear favorites. I see the teams fairly evenly matched. We've got our work cut out for us if we hope to win our division.''

"I feel the same way,'' said Lucchino. "This is just not a mano-a-mano, two-team match. We've got other teams that are building solid teams and making substantial commitments. So the American League East will still be the rough and tuble American League East -- make no mistake about that.''

"We're confident,'' added Werner, "but the Yankees are every bit as strong as they always are.''

Asked about the future of general manager Theo Epstein, John Henry said: "We haven't had any substantive conversations recently. I always ask him how he's doing. Things are going extremely well from his vantage point and our vantage point.

"I really don't know when his contract is up. So we haven't discussed contracts. But the important thing is that we're all extremely happy working with Theo.''

Werner said the Red Sox might look into bringing Liverpool to Fenway for a friendly match and would be receptive to having the Red Sox play in an international venue.

But ownership went to great pains again to point out that the club's various investments -- NASCAR, Liverpool soccer -- are separate.

"They're all stand-alone entities that have their own management,'' said Werner. "We have a firewall between them so that's clear.''

Lucchino said the Sox have enough financial flexibility to add payroll if the need arises during the season.

"We always save some amount of money, to be determined each year,'' said Lucchino. "We will certainly look to make improvements if the team is in the hunt and there's a specific need and a specific opportunity. I think that's part of an obligation of ownership.

Commissioner Bud Selig's contract is up in November 2012 and he has said he intends to retire. Occasionally, Lucchino's name surfaces as a possible candidate for the position.

"Speculation -- the little bit of it that's been -- is flattering,'' he said. "I'm really very content where I am. If you're a baseball executive, this is the best place to be. I love Boston, New England. My family loves it. It seems like the rest of my career was sort of building up so that this could be the final stage of it.

"That's not something I spend any time thinking about. First of all, I don't know that the other clubs will feel a commissioner change is desirable. It's flattering, but it's not realistic.''

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

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.

 

First impressions: Yankees power their way past Price, Red Sox

First impressions: Yankees power their way past Price, Red Sox

NEW YORK -- First impressions from the Red Sox' 6-4 loss to the Yankees.

 

* As the postseason gets closer, David Price needs to do a better job of keeping the ball in the ballpark.

Price gave up three homers Tuesday night -- a two-run shoot to rookie sensation Gary Sanchez in the first; a solo shot to Didi Gregorius in the sixth; and another two-run belt in the seventh to Tyler Austin.

That's six homers in the last three outings and 29 for the season. It's also the sixth time this season that he's given up multiple homers in the same start, with the three on Tuesday representing a season-high.

Prior to this year, Price had never allowed more than 25 homers in a season. Last season, splitting time between the cavernous Comerica Park in Detroit and the hitter-friendly Rogers Centre, he yielded just 17.

Worse, twice Tuesday the homers came at inauspicious times. In the sixth, the Sox had just closed to within one at 3-2; in the seventh, the Sox had worked t tie the game at 4-4.

 

* For all of the offensive brilliance shown by Mookie Betts, it's easy to forget how good he's been in right field.

Anyone who plays in the same outfield with Jackie Bradley Jr. runs the risk of having his defensive play overshadowed and that's likely the case with Betts.

He's played a Gold Glove-caliber right field, showing good range and instincts -- especially for someone who never played the outfield professionally until about 2 1/2 years ago.

And while Bradley has the stronger arm, Betts has 14 assists, including one Tuesday night.

That took place on a ball in which Betts was initially fooled. With one on, Chase Headley lined a ball to right that Betts seemed to lose in the lights. He went to his knees, fighting the lights, and managed to reach back to make the catch, sprawling. He then had the presence of mind to set himself and fire a throw to first, doubling up Starlin Castro for a mind-blowing double play.

 

* Expanded rosters make a mockery of the game.

In the eighth inning, Joe Girardi and John Farrell combined to burn through six players for one plate appearance.

Righty Blake Parker was set to face Aaron Hill, but Farrell had lefty Travis Shaw announced. Girardi then countered by bringing in lefty Richard Bleier to face Shaw.

Of course, Farrell countered by having righty Chris Young hit for Shaw. Young reached on a fielder's choice, and because Young can't play third, Farrell had insert Deven Marrero at third in the bottom of the inning.

Four position players and two pitchers in one spot. That couldn't be done in any other month during the season.

So why is it allowed in September?