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Red Sox COO Sam Kennedy on D&C: ‘We all need a little bit of patience’ as team struggles through April 04.17.14 at 9:44 am ET
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Sam Kennedy

Sam Kennedy

Red Sox COO Sam Kennedy checked in with Dennis & Callahan on Thursday morning and said owner John Henry called manager John Farrell on Wednesday to offer his support during the team’s early season struggles. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.

The Red Sox, bringing up the rear in the American League East, improved to 6-9 with Wednesday’s 6-4, 14-inning victory over the White Sox.

“I think repeating [as champions] is probably one of the hardest things to do in professional sports, and we are off to an awful start. While there have been some positives, it’s been really bad,” Kennedy said. “April, you really like to get off to a good start, so it’s been disappointing. People say, ‘Is there a hangover, is there a letdown?’ Whatever it is, you can really point to the basics. We’re not hitting. I think we’re hitting about a buck-fifty with runners in scoring position. We were 1-4 going into last night’s game in one-run games. That’s not going to last. [Dustin] Pedroia, [Will] Middlebrooks, now [Mike] Napoli, [Shane] Victorino missing time, Koji [Uehara]. It’s a lot of factors to point to. I think we need to have some perspective.

“I know for a fact that John Henry reached out to John Farrell and Ben Cherington yesterday just to say, ‘Hey, guys, it’s early, hang in there, things are going to be OK.’ Because you could tell how frustrated those guys are. And we all are. But we do have to have a little bit of perspective. This is our 13th year here together in Boston. Things will get better. Guys will start to hit. Again, the pitching’s been there. So, we all need a little bit of patience. And I know that’s hard for most of us.”

The other big Red Sox news over the last week relates to the negotiations for a new contract with left-hander Jon Lester. A recent report indicated the Red Sox made a lowball offer of about $70 million for four years.

“You have to remember, we’re starting from a place where the Red Sox, from John Henry on down to Jon Lester, want to make a deal. That’s the starting place. I think everybody feels good about that,” Kennedy said. “The problem with negotiations and details from baseball negotiations getting into the public domain when you have a leak like we did this past week related to this deal is one data point gets into the media, gets out there, gets dissected. I can tell you there are lots of other data points related to this negotiation that are not in the public spotlight, in the media. All I’ll say is that Ben Cherington, Jon Lester, Larry Lucchino, our ownership group will continue to work on this. And it’s clearly best when baseball discussions are kept private, and then baseball decisions are made public. That’s been our philosophy.

“Do we want to see Jon Lester in a Red Sox uniform for a long, long time? Absolutely, yes. As a fan, I hope that he is with us for a long, long time. We’ll see where things go over the coming weeks and months. But I’m hopeful that we do end up getting something done there.”

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Ben Cherington on D&C: John Lackey likely ‘going to keep pitching past 2015’ 04.10.14 at 10:30 am ET
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Ben Cherington

Ben Cherington

Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington joined Dennis & Callahan on Thursday to discuss the beginning of the season and pitching contracts. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.

After saying during the spring that they were turning the page on last year, the Red Sox have gone 4-5 during the first two weeks of the 2014 season.

“I think doing it is a little more difficult than saying it,” Cherington said. “I think we’re in the process of doing it. We’ve had a couple of reminders early in the season, reminders of last year — obviously great reminders and good reasons to be reminded.

“I think once we get into a normal routine, and this road trip might represent that normal routine, we’ll see if the team is more fully turning the page.”

Veteran pitcher John Lackey has won two of those games, but, due to a stipulation in his contract, Lackey is set to make the league minimum during the 2015 season.

“John’s one of the most accountable, reliable guys in our clubhouse,” Cherington said. “And one of the things, even when things weren’t going as well for him in Boston, he was always one of the most reliable guys. … He already has a high degree of accountability, and I think he understands the contract he signed.

“It’s also clear the way he’s throwing right now that in all likelihood he’€™s going to keep pitching past 2015, so he’s got a lot of reasons to keep pitching. He certainly looks more than capable of pitching for a while, and he’s got the kind of body and delivery and command. He’s the type of guy that could pitch for a while longer if he wants to, so it is a bit of an unusual situation, but it was part of the contract that was agreed to, and I think the way it looks like right now, we would all expect for John to sign another contract at some point and continue through 2015.”

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Ben Cherington: Red Sox want to resolve Jon Lester contract talks ‘one way or another’ before Opening Day 03.24.14 at 12:59 pm ET
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SARASOTA, Fla. ‘€“ Speaking after a press conference to announce David Ortiz‘€™ contract extension, Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington said he plans on having resolution to the Jon Lester contract talks before Opening Day.

‘€œI can’€™t handicap it. We’€™re still talking,’€ Cherington said. ‘€œThere’€™s nothing else to report but that. I think the spirit of it has continued to be open and sharing information and also focusing in on resolving it one way or another this week before we get into Opening Day. But aside from that I can’€™t speculate on it.’€

Cherington noted there were no plans currently to meet with Lester’€™s agents, Sam and Seth Levinson, in the coming weeks, but that could change. The GM said he has had ‘€œa number of conversations over the last moth’€ with both Lester and his agents.

‘€œAny time you can talk and share information and understand each perspective better, that’€™s a form of progress,’€ the GM said. ‘€œI think we’€™ve done. I think saying anything more than that is sort of unfair to the process and not consistently with what we’€™ve agreed with Jon and Seth in terms of keeping the talks behind closed doors. We have great respect for Jon. He’€™s obviously preparing to take the ball on Opening Day, and that’€™s what he’€™s focused on mostly. No matter what happens this week, we’€™re going to support him fully and our preferred position is that he remains in a Red Sox uniform past 2014 won’€™t change, no matter what happens the rest of this week.’€

When asked if there was a possibility of talks heading into the season ‘€“ as Lester said he was open to if a resolution was perceived to be close ‘€“ Cherington reiterated the team’€™s intention was to move on from negotiations when the season began.

‘€œRight now we’€™re focused on the conversation this week and trying to resolve it one way or another without getting into the season,’€ he said. ‘€œHopefully we’€™re all reasonable people and if it made sense to do that we could reconsider next week, but that’€™s not the thinking right now.’€

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Mike Petraglia, Alex Speier on John Farrell, Ben Cherington, Tom Werner and Day 4 of 2014 Spring Training 02.20.14 at 6:09 pm ET
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Jon Lester says he wants ‘a Dustin Pedroia deal’ to stay with Red Sox 01.23.14 at 10:50 pm ET
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Jon Lester said he's open to seeking less than full market value to stay with the Red Sox beyond 2014. (AP)

Jon Lester said he’s open to seeking less than full market value to stay with the Red Sox beyond 2014. (AP)

With the recent mega-deals handed out to the likes of Clayton Kershaw and Masahiro Tanaka, questions have arisen about the future of the Red Sox‘ own left-handed ace, Jon Lester.

Speaking during the media availability at the Boston Baseball Writers Association of America awards dinner, Lester made it clear that despite the possibility of a major payday on the open market, he’s more than open to signing an extension with Boston rather than pursuing free agency following the 2014 season.

“I want to be here until they have to rip this jersey off my back,” Lester said. “I want to stay here. This is what I’ve known. I grew up in this organization. I’ve had plenty of good and bad times here. I enjoy it, my family loves it here, all my son talks about is going home to Boston, and that’s what he thinks is home. If it all comes down to it, we want to be here.”

Though elite starting pitchers are garnering big money on the open market,  Lester said that he’s open to taking a hometown discount in order to remain with the Red Sox. For the left-hander, familiarity and commitment to win weighs heavily in his decision.

“I’ve never been the type of guy to take more money from somebody else to suck. I don’t want to do that. That’s no fun. I want to win, and if that means taking a Dustin Pedroia deal, to take less money to be happy and competitive and win every year, let’s do it,” Lester said, referencing the eight-year, $110 million extension that his teammate signed during the 2013 season. Read the rest of this entry »

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Red Sox GM Ben Cherington: ‘To be determined’ whether Red Sox meet with Masahiro Tanaka 01.10.14 at 11:30 am ET
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Masahiro Tanaka (AP)

Masahiro Tanaka (AP)

Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington, in an interview on WEEI’s Hot Stove Show on Thursday night, said that the Red Sox have been “in contact” with Casey Close, who represents right-hander Masahiro Tanaka, the Japanese pitcher who has been posted by the Rakuten Golden Eagles. Tanaka, considered the top pitcher available this offseason, is in the United States meeting with a number of teams in advance of the Jan. 24 date after which he can sign with a team willing to pay a $20 million posting fee to Rakuten for his rights. Cherington declined to say whether the Red Sox were among the teams with whom Tanaka is meetings, instead suggest it was “to be determined” whether the pitcher would meet with the Sox.

“We’ve been in touch with Casey Close, who’s representing Tanaka, and obviously we’ve done a lot of work on Tanaka, as a lot of teams have. So we’re very comfortable with our evaluation. We’ve had a conversation and dialogue with Casey. That’s about all I’d want to say at this point,” Cherington said. “We respect Tanaka as a pitcher. Obviously he’s very accomplished. Not surprisingly,there will be a lot of competition for him. It will be an interesting couple weeks I guess, roughly, that he has to make a decision.

“Meeting with teams is sort of an indication that he wants to get more information from those teams. We’ll just see how it plays out. We’ll see whether it makes sense to have that meeting with us. I think we have had a good open dialogue with Casey. I think he understands our position and we understand his,” Cherington added. “I don’t think the calendar really allows for him to meet with every team. Nor does the calendar allow for every team to meet with him. So there’s got to be some sense on both sides that it’s time worth spending. That’s to be determined. All I can say at this point is we really respect him as a pitcher, his talent, he’s very accomplished obviously. He certainly looks like a guy who’s going to be a good major league starter right away. When that kind of pitcher or talent is available, it’s our job to do the work we need to do to get to know him and express a level of interest that makes sense for us. We’ve done that. So, we’ll see how that goes.”

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Ben Cherington: Contract talks with David Ortiz will continue through season at 9:42 am ET
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Appearing on The Hot Stove Show with Rob Bradford and Alex Speier Thursday night, Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington confirmed that the team has had contract talks with David Ortiz, and plan on continuing the conversation throughout the upcoming season.

“Probably so,” Cherington said when asked if talks with Ortiz and his agent, Fern Cuza, will be taking place in the coming months. “I can say that because I think there’€™s always dialogue with David and with Fern. That’€™s important to me. It’€™s important to ownership. It’€™s important to the organization to have open dialogue with our key players and David is certainly one of those. We’ve talked this winter.

“Look, David is a really important player on a number of levels. Obviously what he does on the field, what he means to the team, his place in the city, all of those things. He’€™s not just any baseball player. When someone like that expresses their strong interest in staying in the organization, I think we mostly take that as a good thing. It’€™s a heck of a lot better than the alternative. So we welcome that interest. So there will be dialogue and we’€™ll just have to see what that turns into. Our position hasn’t changed when it comes to David. It has been, for some time and I expect it will continue to be, we want him to finish his career with the Red Sox and we want him to do that in a way that’€™s right for him, that’€™s right for us, that fits his career and fits the type of player that he is, is graceful and all those things. Right now we’€™re counting on him being in the middle of our lineup for 2014 and we’€™re lucky to have him. Certainly the door will be open and there will be a chance to talk about it, whether it’€™s in spring training or into the season.”

Ortiz had told WEEI.com during his celebrity golf tournament in December that he wanted to get an extension done sooner rather than later.

The designated hitter is in the final year of his current deal, which will pay him $15 million.

For the complete audio, click here.

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