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John Henry and Larry Lucchino agree: Red Sox are not ‘clear favorites’ in ‘rough and tumble’ AL East

02.19.11 at 11:37 am ET

FORT MYERS, Fla. — With expectations and predictions of the franchise’s first 100-win season since 1946 and an third World Series title in eight seasons, Red Sox principal owner John Henry said the team has lots of work ahead to just make the playoffs.

“I don’t see us as a clear favorite,” Henry said when asked of the Yankees. “I see the teams as fairly evenly matched. We’ve got our work cut out for us to hopefully win the division.”

“I feel the same way,” added Red Sox president Larry Lucchino. “There are other teams that are improving in this division. This is just not a mano-a-mano, two-team match. We’ve got other teams that are building a solid team and are making substantial commitments to those teams. The American League East will still be the rough-and-tumble American League East. Let’s make no mistake about that.”

Henry was joined by Red Sox executives Tom Werner and Lucchino, manager Terry Francona and GM Theo Epstein in an address to the team before the first full-squad workout of 2011. Henry said the front office didn’t need to remind the team they haven’t accomplished anything yet this year.

“I think that goes without saying,” Henry said. “This is a group of professionals. They know they haven’t accomplished anything. What we are on paper needs to translate into results and this is the first day of that translation.”

Lucchino described the atmosphere in the clubhouse as ownership joined manager Terry Francona and GM Theo Epstein in delivering an address to the team prior to the club’s first full-squad workout – an address that included a standing ovation from the players to ownership.

“There’€™s quite definitely a sense of confidence, a sense of optimism, a sense of what could possibly be,” Lucchino said. “You feel it when you first walk into camp and talk to the individual players.

“The meeting today had that kind of feeling as well. But everyone knows that hope springs eternal every spring. We’€™ve got to make sure that we’€™re healthy, and that the good luck and randomness of the game work in our favor as well. But there’€™s an atmosphere here that is extremely positive, confident, upbeat, that is very encouraging.”

Lucchino chimed in by reminding everyone the expectations of these Red Sox are defined simply by their identity. But he stopped far short of saying that anything less than a World Series title would be a big disappointment.

“Every year we come to camp with a hope. We are the Boston Red Sox,” Lucchinio explained. “We come to camp with a sense of high expectation, but none of us are crazy enough to take a position like that right now, at least I’€™m not.

“I just want to speak for myself. There’€™s too much randomness in the game, too many other factors that play into the game. I mentioned randomness. I mentioned health, team chemistry. We’€™ll have to wait and see how it all comes together, but we have a goal every year, and that’€™s to play in October so we have a chance to be world champions again.”

“I would echo what John and Tom have said. There was definitely a feel and a sense of confidence, a sense of optimism

Read More: 2011 Spring Training, al east, Boston Red Sox, John Henry
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