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Larry Lucchino on D&C: ‘There’s a good vibe coming out of camp’

02.21.14 at 9:00 am ET
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Red Sox president/CEO Larry Lucchino checked in with Dennis & Callahan on Friday morning from spring training in Fort Myers, Fla., to revel in the 2013 World Series championship and look ahead to 2014. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.

Lucchino acknowledged that there’s never been a more relaxed and joyous feeling heading to spring training.

“I think that’s fair to say. There was something special about the win last year, the way it happened, the worst-to-first thing, the idea that all of you guys in the media were completely wrong,” Lucchino said. “There were so many sources of satisfaction. And of course the Boston Strong element that came into it. It was terrific.

“But there’s also down here right now — and maybe as a consequence of that, and because of the people we have in leadership positions here — there is a good vibe coming out of camp. There’s a good feeling down here. Without going into the detail on it, John Farrell made a major point of the closeness, the unity of the club last year. And all signs point in that direction again this year.”

David Ortiz made news with his public request for a contract extension, and Lucchino indicated that he takes no offense with Ortiz’s intention.

“I think we would like to get something done with David,” Lucchino said. “But anything that related to David Ortiz is a big issue. He’s been such a critical part of the success of the team over the last decade. He’s the only one, I guess, who’s been here in uniform for all three of our wins over the last decade. The role he plays both for the Red Sox and in baseball, those roles are remarkable. So anything that relates to his well-being, his focus, possible distraction, I think that qualifies as a semi-big deal.”

Added Lucchino: “We are responding to a request that came to us from David’s representative. I think that’s fair to say. He was under contract. But if you have the kind of year that David had and you’re at the stage of his career that he is, it’s not entirely surprising.”

Pitcher Ryan Demspter announced Sunday that he would skip the 2014 season, and Lucchino said he was as surprised as the rest of Red Sox Nation by Dempster’s decision.

“I was not only surprised, I was shocked,” Lucchino said. “Yet when I heard him explain it and I heard a little more about the rationale for it, my admiration for him increased dramatically. I don’t remember any other guys that have done that. ‘€¦ Dempster’s role on this team was exceptional last year. I know you’ve probably talked to him. He was such a leader, such a source of the solid chemistry that came together last year. He is going to be missed enormously. He’s one of the most well-liked and respected players I’ve ever been associated with. I hope we can get him to come back and do some things this year. Maybe for NESN, maybe in some other way.”

Following are more highlights from the interview. For more Red Sox news, visit the team page at weei.com/redsox.

On Jon Lester saying publicly he would take less money to stay with the Red Sox: “What I would do if he came in here is thank him for the extraordinarily gracious things he said about the Red Sox and the Red Sox franchise and his commitment to the Red Sox. We were talking about Dempster’s rarity, it’s also rare to hear a player speak as candidly, as openly, as forthrightly as Jon Lester did about his desire to be here.”

On Boston becoming a popular destination for players: “That’s a critical part of the success of the team. It starts with a robust farm system, you’ve got to have that. But you also have to have a place where players like to play, where the players feel respected, with a fan base as passionate and enthusiastic … the wives are happy, etc. You’ve got to have a holistic approach to the players’ experience here. Yeah, I did expect that we would get there. I think we have been there before, and I hope we can stay there for a long time. We’re not going to succeed exclusively on attracting free agents because the quality of life in Boston, the quality of the baseball life in Boston, but we are going to succeed because of that along with several other things.”

On the key to last season’s World Series championship: “So many things went so well. The health of the club, the chemistry of the club, the contributions from so many different people. But I think David Ortiz is the one thing that kind of put us over the top. ‘€¦ The reliance, the confidence that existed with the bullpen at the end of a game and David’s unearthly performance.”

On concern about the loss of Jacoby Ellsbury: “Of course it does [cause concern]. It’s one of the uncertain issues that we have with this team. Not just where he bats in the order but his whole role on the team, baserunning tone that he set and the defense that he provided and the comfort level that people had with him and he had with the place. Of course we’ve got Jackie Bradley Jr., Grady Sizemore, we’ve got some guys competing for that position. But certainly I miss the guys that have left, I miss Salty [Jarrod Saltalamacchia] as well. There’s a lot of sentiment because of the experience of last year and the years we’ve known these guys. But as I’ve said before, you can’t fall in love with your veterans. That was then, this is now.”

On a new player who could have an impact this year: “How about Garin Cecchini? How about that? There’s a name. There’s a guy with a major league hitting approach.”

Read More: David Ortiz, garin cecchini, Jacoby Ellsbury, Jon Lester
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