|Tito returns: Not ‘just another day at the office’ for Terry Francona||03.22.12 at 5:29 pm ET|
FORT MYERS, Fla. — The arrival was treated with enthusiasm and curiosity by Terry Francona‘s former players. Dustin Pedroia chastised his former cribbage partner for talking to the media “now that you’re one of them.” David Ortiz stopped in for a hug. Darnell McDonald likewise wanted to see Francona, the man who gave him his most meaningful big league opportunity.
This is Francona’s new job. He is an analyst for ESPN, and so he is making the rounds among big league ballparks for broadcasts. But his arrival in the city where he spent the previous eight springs as Red Sox manager was…different.
‘If I sat here and said, ‘Yeah, this is just another day at the office,’ that wouldn’t be true,” said Francona. “I’m excited to do the game, but I’ll be a little glad when the day is over. It’s a little awkward for me.’
That is in part because his Red Sox experience remains something of an emotional tangle, something that became clear when Francona was asked if he would consider returning to Fenway Park if asked for the celebration of the ballpark’s 100th anniversary. Read the rest of this entry »
|Carl Crawford accepts John Henry’s apology||02.25.12 at 10:17 pm ET|
FORT MYERS, Fla. — Before heading out to the batting cage to take 30 swings, Carl Crawford sat down with John Henry to hear an apology from the Red Sox principal owner about remarks he made last October, indicating he never wanted to sign Crawford.
“It went extremely well,” Crawford said of their meeting that lasted over 10 minutes. “He was apologetic and I accepted his apology and we both agreed to just move and go from there.”
A career .293 hitter, Crawford batted just .255 last season, including .155 in April, with 11 homers and 56 RBIs, after signing a seven-year, $142 million deal prior to the 2011 season.
“When someone is genuinely sorry for something, you can tell,” Crawford said. “I think he was genuinely sorry for it. I apologized for the season I had. Had I played better, he wouldn’t had to say that so we just both exchanged words that were good. I thinke we were able to clear the air and now it’s just time to move on.”
Crawford said he felt very comfortable talking with Henry during the early afternoon meeting.
“It felt really good. I like those kind of meetings where you just kind of clear the air and make everything better,” Crawford said. “I think it’s best for the organization and best for everybody that we all get along and that’s the way it should be. He’s the kind of guy who is really soft-spoken, really easy to talk to. He actually came in with a smile on his face so I knew things were going to be good from there.
“He handled it really well and made it really easy for me. It wasn’t nothing I had to get off my chest. It wasn’t like I hated the guy or nothing like that. It was just like ‘I accept your apology, let’s move on. I have no hard feelings for you or anybody else around here.’ I think we both share the same goal which is to help the Red Sox win. We’ll be better off. We’ll become stronger and the bond will be closer from his saying that. That’s the way I look at it.”
Meanwhile, Crawford said he’s been taking swings in the cage all week and hopes to be ready for opening day after offseason wrist surgery. Manager Bobby Valentine said Crawford is at about 80 percent, taking 30-35 swings a day and did not rule out Crawford being ready for the April 5 opener in Detroit.
|John Henry: Terry Francona ‘will always be a part of the Red Sox family’||02.20.12 at 9:20 pm ET|
FORT MYERS — Two days after a report in the Boston Herald suggested that he had not returned several phone calls from former Red Sox manager Terry Francona this offseason, Sox owner John Henry wrote in an email that he had not been trying to avoid contact since the former manager parted ways with the Sox. Henry said that he did talk to Francona on Monday, in the process dispelling misunderstandings that the two might have had, and that the two plan to get together in Fort Myers this spring.
“I called Tito about this today. We spoke also about a number of things, but regarding what you inquired about, he said he had called on my cell phone but didn’t leave any messages. We simply missed each other apparently a few times,” Henry wrote. “Had he left me a message, I would have certainly called him back. We talked extensively and agreed that we had waited far too long in speaking and both of us had probably come to some wrong conclusions as to why we hadn’t. We are looking forward to sitting down in Ft. Myers this spring for lunch or a game. He will always be a part of the Red Sox family.”
Henry also praised his former employee, who managed the Sox for eight seasons, reaching the playoffs five times and winning two titles.
“Tito was the best manager the Boston Red Sox ever had,” he wrote. “We won two World Series together. He’ll be terrific on ESPN Sunday Night Baseball. And no one can doubt that he will be managing again very soon.”
|Bobby Valentine thanks Red Sox ownership for giving their blessing to Ben Cherington||12.01.11 at 11:45 pm ET|
But the opening of his acceptance speech in the State Street Pavilion raised a few eyebrows. He thanked John Henry, Tom Werner and Larry Lucchino for giving their stamp of approval to GM Ben Cherington for hiring him as the 45th manager in team history.
“I’d like to thank Ben and his front office staff. I’d like to thank John and Tom and Larry for giving the blessings to Ben on his decision,” Valentine said.
The irony in that statement is that most are assuming that this wasn’t Cherington’s decision at all but instead a hand-picked choice of ownership.
“I’d like to thank all my friends, family who have supported me,” Valentine said. “Many of you people out there who have said a kind word or two to allow this to happen because this day is a special day. It’s more than a special day. It’s the beginning of a life that I think is going to extend beyond anything I ever thought.
“The talent, the players that we have in this organization is a gift to anyone. And I’m the receiver of that gift. I think we’re going to do this, man. I really and truly appreciate this opportunity.”
|Transcript of Larry Lucchino on D&C: ‘You guys might want to live in September 2011 forever, but we don’t’||10.28.11 at 3:48 pm ET|
Red Sox president/CEO Larry Lucchino joined the Dennis & Callahan show Friday morning to defend his boss, John Henry, talk about the Theo Epstein/Ben Cherington situations, and update the masses on the Red Sox’ managerial search.
Lucchino also discussed how the team is dealing with misbehavior by the pitchers in the clubhouse. Josh Beckett has been identified as one of the key participants, but he has yet to step forward and address the issue like some of his teammates. Lucchino said he has spoke with the veteran right-hander.
“I think he is on the same page, just less willing to deal with the media right now,” Lucchino said. “He craves his privacy I think a little more. But he was a highly motivated guy when I spoke to him. I think he feels like we as a team have something to prove, they as a pitching staff have something to prove. And I think you will see a highly motivated Josh Beckett. I know you will next year.
Asked if Beckett apologized, Lucchino said: “I didn’t ask for an apology. But we spoke about what the circumstances were. I should let Josh speak for himself when he decides to do that. Let’s just say he appreciated that there were some things going on in the clubhouse, but he felt that they were dramatically blown out of proportion by the media.”
Pushed on the matter, Lucchino said he was tired of rehashing the September collapse.
“I don’t want to play the blame game,” he said. “I don’t want to go back. You guys might want to live in September 2011 forever, but we don’t. We want to move forward. I probably made a mistake simply by indulging you guys in the conversation about that. It’s time to move forward. It’s not time to dwell on who drank a beer or had a piece of fried chicken. If you believe that that was the cause of the collapse in September, I think you’re mistaken.”
|The general manager’s goodbye: Theo Epstein’s parting words to Red Sox fans||10.25.11 at 12:34 am ET|
Former Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein, in an op-ed in the Boston Globe, detailed some of the factors that led him to walk away from what he described as his childhood “dream job as general manager of the Red Sox” after nine seasons in order to accept a position as President of Baseball Operations with the Cubs.
Epstein, who was the architect of a Sox franchise that reached the playoffs six times in his nine-year tenure and won two World Series (a prospect that was unfathomable when he was growing up in Brookline), made clear that he still has enormous respect and appreciation for his colleagues and bosses with the Red Sox.
While he described his “close relationships” to principal owner John Henry and chairman Tom Werner, Epstein described a “complicated but ultimately productive and rewarding relationship” with CEO Larry Lucchino. But he dismissed the idea that his move to Chicago is related to “power, pressure, money, or relationships.” He also said that his relocation is unrelated to the Sox’ September collapse, which he said happened “despite [the Sox’ owners], not because of them.”
Instead, he suggested, he had already begun contemplating change as part of the natural cycle of a sports executive. Initially, he planned to leave his position as GM of the Sox after the 2012 season, at the expiration of the four-year contract that he signed with the Sox following the 2008 season.
“Football legend Bill Walsh used to say that coaches and executives should seek change after 10 years with the same team,” he wrote. “The theory is that both the individual and the organization benefit from a change after so much time together. The executive gets rebirth and the energy that comes with a new challenge; the organization gets a fresh perspective, and the chance for true change that comes with new leadership. This idea resonated with me. Although I tried my best to fight it, I couldn’t escape the conclusion that both the Red Sox and I would benefit from a change sometime soon.”
This season, Epstein had been grooming Assistant GM Ben Cherington as his successor, a process that the Sox expected to play out after the 2012 season. Yet the late-season collapse, and the following decision that manager Terry Francona would not be back, preceded an offer from Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts to meet and discuss a position running the Cubs’ baseball operations department.
“I wrestled with leaving during a time when criticism, deserved and otherwise, surrounded the organization,” he wrote. “But Walsh’s words kept popping into my head, and I recalled how important it was for me as a relatively new general manager to bond with Terry Francona during the interview process back in 2003.” Read the rest of this entry »
|Curt Schilling on M&M: Red Sox ‘have no leadership whatsoever in that clubhouse’||10.17.11 at 2:09 pm ET|
Former Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling called in to the Mut & Merloni show Monday to discuss the news that Jon Lester acknowledged there was drinking in the clubhouse during games this season, although Lester downplayed the situation and insisted it had nothing to do with the September collapse.
“I mentioned something last week that I had talked to a couple of people that I’m very comfortable [with], are being up front and honest about this. And the one message I got was that Jon Lester never stopped busting his ass to the bitter end from a work perspective,” Schilling said. “Unfortunately, I asked that when you think about his September, his final run of starts, you just have to attribute that to just lackluster performance. I was kind of hoping that wasn’t the case.
“But as far as Jon goes, I’m happy that the kid I knew, and the young man that I knew, wasn’t kind of dragged into this.”
Schilling said it’s not uncommon for pitchers to have a beer in the locker room after being lifted from a game. But if pitchers were exhibiting that behavior on days they weren’t pitching, that crosses a line.
“I was more concerned that this was something that was happening around guys just because. They were going up and having a beer in the clubhouse,” Schilling said. “I think for some of these guys that’s exactly what it was. But I would bet you that when it had to do with Jon Lester, the beer he was having was after he was out of a game. And given how they pitched in September, there might have been more than one beer.”
Asked if Josh Beckett should be next to come forward and explain his behavior, Schilling said all the pitchers should.
“I think they all have to. I don’t know how you get away from [it],” he said. “I mean, you were directly responsible for the largest collapse in baseball history as one of the pitchers that went down on the ship. As the leader of that staff, I think absolutely, he’s one of the two guys that absolutely has to.
“In my mind, there’s only one way to do this. It’s to sit in front of the media and say, ‘Listen, this is what happened. It’s horrific. It was stupid. I made a bunch of mistakes on top of other mistakes. It cost us a chance to go to the playoffs. It cost our manager his job. And I’m sorry. And I’m going to do everything I can do to make up [for it].’ Unless it’s a complete mea culpa, I don’t know that there’s any other path here, especially for these fans.”
|Deal sending Theo Epstein from Red Sox to Cubs remains virtually inevitable||10.15.11 at 9:38 pm ET|
In December 2006, the negotiations between the Sox and agent Scott Boras for the services of right-hander Daisuke Matsuzaka left baseball observers in two countries in a state of suspense. There was plenty of bluster and bluffing, to the point that the Sox said that they would board a plane from Southern California back to Boston without the right-hander.
But as much as it seemed possible, amazingly enough, that the deal might fall apart, it was always going to get done. There was too much at stake, too many parties that wanted the deal to happen for it to collapse.
The Sox needed Matsuzaka to come, both in order to upgrade their rotation and because the negotiation could have significant long-term ramifications for their presence in the Pacific Rim.
Matsuzaka was burning to take his talents to the U.S. and to test himself against the top professional league in the world. Unless the Sox low-balled him, he would have found it nearly impossible to return to Japan.
The only party that didn’t want a deal along the lines of the six-year, $52 million deal offered to Matsuzaka by the Red Sox was Boras, who was frustrated by the fact that the pitcher was not being treated as if he was on the open market. Conceivably, Boras argued, Matsuzaka could return to Seibu and then either be posted again by the Lions or wait until he was a free agent to come to Major League Baseball.
But faced with the reality of sabotaging a deal that everyone wanted or accepting the shared feeling that a deal needed to get done, Matsuzaka and Boras relented, and Matsuzaka became a Red Sox.
The current situation regarding Epstein, the Red Sox and the Cubs features similar incentives. Read the rest of this entry »
|John Henry on the collapse, Francona’s reputation, Epstein’s job status and more||10.14.11 at 4:32 pm ET|
Red Sox principal owner, in a far-ranging interview on 98.5 The Sports Hub, discussed the state of his team, including the perception that his organization is amidst a period of chaos that has involved the savaging of the reputation of former manager Terry Francona and the likely imminent departure of GM Theo Epstein for the Chicago Cubs. He also touched on numerous other topics, including the team’s concerns about the inefficiencies of free agency, something that led him to oppose the signing of outfielder Carl Crawford, but that he deferred to his baseball operations team.
Foremost, however, Henry expressed his dismay about the fact that the team came up short of expectations in a 2011 season that appeared to be promising for much of the year but that ended in a historic collapse that left the time outside of the playoffs.
Henry said that he is as committed as ever to the Red Sox, and he remains a passionate fan of the team who follows the team on a nightly basis. He also said that the purchase by the Fenway Sports Group did not impact the ownership-level oversight of the club, since Red Sox CEO Larry Lucchino is (and has been) the man who oversees the Sox, while Henry and chairman Tom Werner are in charge of the FSG group with interests elsewhere.
That said, Henry said the struggles of his club at the end of 2011 — something that he attributed to the team’s brutal starting pitching down the stretch — impacted him deeply.
“It broke my heart to see this club fall apart at the end,” said Henry. “It’s devastating. You invest, I watched 162 games, 159, 160, every pitch, every inning. You put everything you can into trying to win a World Series. To have it fall apart at the end is frustrating and painful. I have to be as angry and as upset as any fans are.
“But if fans hang in there, I’m going to hang in there,” Henry added. “We’re going to be back as an organization. We’re going to have a top class manager and general manager, and we’re going to have a great team next year. People right now are forgetting that this was a great team before September. They’re concentrating solely on September. And I don’t blame them for that. We are, too. We are concentrating on what happened in September.
“But I love this team, and I’m going to do everything I can to get it back to where it needs to be.”
–Henry said that his ownership group was not accountable for the allegations in a recent Boston Globe article that former Sox manager Terry Francona had numerous personal issues. Read the rest of this entry »
|Curt Schilling on D&C: ‘This is what happens when you piss people off that are really rich and powerful’||10.13.11 at 11:18 am ET|
Former Red Sox pitcher and ESPN baseball analyst Curt Schilling joined the Dennis & Callahan show Thursday morning to share his thoughts on an article published Wednesday outing some of the gory details of the Red Sox failed season.
Schilling, who sounded emotional when addressing the current Red Sox players’ silence in the wake of the reports, said he thinks the players need to start taking responsibility for their actions that led to the worst September collapse in baseball history.
“My biggest fear is that one or more players is going to come out and try to defend what’s happened instead of just doing a mea culpa and saying, ‘You know what? Wow was this wrong. Wow did we screw this guy. Wow did we cost you. I don’t know if there’s anything we can say or do to make this up, but we’ll do everything,'” Schilling said. “I don’t see anything other than that. Otherwise you can’t come back.”
Schilling said he was especially hurt and disturbed by accusations made about Terry Francona, and he even went so far as to say Francona may have the makings of a slander lawsuit on his hands because of statements made by anonymous sources about a pain-killer issue.
“I wonder legally whether he has recourse because the team trainer, the team doctor and the ownership, the executive people on this team I would imagine are the only people with enough knowledge of Tito’s medicinal habits to make that comment, to have that news out there,” Schilling said. “This was somebody out to ruin this guy’s life. Because now, I look at this almost like I look at a sexual harassment case. It doesn’t matter if he did it or not. He’s going to have to answer questions about this for the rest of his life.”
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