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Regret is the hardest word for Theo Epstein and Terry Francona

09.30.11 at 10:19 am ET

Regret is the hardest word in sports.

And on Thursday both Theo Epstein and Terry Francona — in likely his last press conference as Red Sox manager — expressed regret for the way the 2011 Red Sox season ended.

In the last week of the season, Dustin Pedroia announced that he would have no regrets — playoffs or not, collapse or not — about the way he went about his job.

“I know I’m going to play my [butt] off and give it everything I have,” Pedroia said, as the Rays drew closer and closer entering the final weekend.

So when disaster finally struck 15 minutes before midnight on Wednesday, the question was only natural, what were the regrets of Epstein and Francona?

“I have regrets because we had a big lead but we did sense that things weren’t right,” Epstein said. “A lot of things went wrong and a lot of things had to go wrong for us to blow the lead but they did. I don’t think any of them were completely unforeseen. We tried different things. I know Tito talked about his meeting in Toronto. I actually addressed the team later on in the month before a game. We redoubled our efforts off the field in the front office.

“There were things we could do, watching games over, looking at charts or seeing if there were little tidbits we could offer players or the coaching staff.”

Francona even acknowledged a last-ditch effort in September to reach the team AFTER a 14-0 win in Toronto, when he saw the clubhouse getting away.

“Tito was trying anything he could do to reach the team,” Epstein said. “So, the bottom line is we didn’t, we didn’t find a way to stop the slide. But bigger picture, sure there are plenty of regrets. There was a lot of talent in that clubhouse and we didn’t get results commensurate with that talent. Just from a straight player personnel standpoint, I could’ve made several decisions differently that would’ve impacted us differently that would have given us an even bigger lead along the way so that we wouldn’t have had to worry about having a month like September.

“Sure there are regrets. I don’t specifically right now that there is any one thing we could have done but I’m sure it’ll come to us over time. But because we didn’t get the results we wants, though we identified some issues, yeah, we have to live with regret.”

As for Francona himself, he admitted frustration but not regret.

“I talked all along about being consistent and there’s a fine line between being stubborn and being consistent,” Francona said. “As things were starting to not go our way, I just continually wanted to put our players in a position that they were accustomed to and they could succeed in. Sometimes that’s hard.

“You start changing the batting order. I think there were times we started changing the batting order out of necessity, especially when we lost Youk. Tried at times to protect Bard and use him as much as we could, tried to use Aceves as much as we could without overusing him. I regret the way the month turned out but I don’t regret the way we worked at and kept plugging away. We spent too much time and were too prepared. Not a lot things worked out too well. I can live with myself on the intensity and the work we put in.”

Read More: Boston Red Sox, collapse, MLB, Terry Francona
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