Red Sox

Lucchino predicts sellout streak will 'rest in peace'

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Lucchino predicts sellout streak will 'rest in peace'

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Earlier this week, principal owner John Henry addressed the media and gave his thoughts on the Red Sox' recent past, present and future.

On a rainy Thursday afternoon, it was president and CEO Larry Lucchino's turn to address a wide range of topics, at times defensive, and other times defiant.

Among the highlights:

On the future of free agent-to-be Jacoby Ellsbury: "Would we like to have him here? Yes. Do I think there will some negotiations that will take place during the course of the year or perhaps sooner? Possibly. I wouldn't rule anything out. But we'd very much like to have him here and like to have him be part of a core Red Sox team. But I don't think it's appropriate to have too much of a discussion about the negotiation process right now and in this forum.

On the club getting away from its core philosophy: "I think there was a kind of deviation from that somewhere along the way."

On new manager John Farrell: "He commands respect. He also has a skill set that's particularly important to this team -- his pitching expertise. He's an honest guy. I think he'll be an outstanding Red Sox manager."

On the persistent sale rumors: "We tried to say to those who asked that it was a false rumor. We didn't know where it came from. But if it's repeated a couple of times, it tends to gain a little credence. It's never been a consideration. I've never been in a meeting where anyone discussed with John or Tom the idea of us selling this team. (Owning the Sox) is a labor of love."

On ownership's commitment to the team: "We've spent our money. We're concerned about generating revenue, make no mistake about that, and we're not apologetic or embarrassed about that. But the revenue goes into the ballclub. It goes into the payroll, it goes into the amateur signing bonuses, it goes into the machinery of the club. It doesn't go out to private bank accounts . . . You can look at the payrolls, the increase in signing bonuses, the increase in foreign player signings, you can look at the size of the Baseball Operations staff when we needed them. We generate money because we need to to have the kind of winning baseball team that we want to have."

On defying expectations and exceeding what some expect for the club in 2013: "I actually like being the underdog. The fact that the media and the sports pundits picks us in the lower reaches of the American League East is in some ways challenging and comforting. Because it wasn't that long ago that some people in this room talked about (the Sox being) the greatest team of all time, a hundred victory season and all of that. They were wrong then, as many of them are wrong now. We're going to be a competitive team."

On the sellout streak at Fenway: "It's going to rest in peace sometime in April, I suspect. But that's not such a terrible thing. It's an extraordinary accomplishment . . . I would point you to one fact: Over the last 11 years, we have sold 99.6 percent of the available seating capacity over the last 11 years . . . That, by itself, putting aside definitions, semantics -- that by itself is extraordinary."

On ticket sales: "Ticket sales are more challenging this year than they have been since the very first year we were here. There may be a reduction on ticket revenue. I don't think that's going to affect us. If we have the successful team that I think we'll have, I do think people will jump back into the ballpark, albeit at a later time than they have historically. I don't want to predict too much of a downturn yet, but I do know it's a possibility."

On competing for high-end free agents: "We certainly can shop there and we'll always shop there. The question is how active will we be in that market? We'll look for deals that make sense. And we'll make exceptions, too. But one of the lessons we learned from recent years is that we'd rather pay a little bit more on a short-term deal than a multi-year contract that goes out five, six, seven, eight years. We appreciate the flexibility and we think it's better for the inevitable kind of reloading that eventually a club has to do periodically."

On off-season regrets: "I was always a big Cody Ross fan. At one point, we were joking at a meeting that I should wear a Cody Ross jersey to the next meeting because I was so eager to see us reach out to him. I have great fondness for him and a lot of respect for him and I do wish him great success."

NLCS: Dodgers win first pennant since 1988 with 11-1 Game 5 rout of Cubs

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NLCS: Dodgers win first pennant since 1988 with 11-1 Game 5 rout of Cubs

CHICAGO -- Enrique Hernandez put a Hollywood ending on an LA story three decades in the making.

Fueled by a home run trilogy from their emotional utilityman, Clayton Kershaw and the Los Angeles Dodgers are finally going to the World Series.

Hernandez homered three times and drove in a record seven runs, Kershaw breezed through six crisp innings and Los Angeles ended the Chicago Cubs' title defense with an 11-1 rout in Game 5 of the NL Championship Series on Thursday night.

"It feels good to hear World Series," Kershaw said. "It's been a long time coming for this team."

After years of playoff heartache, there was just no stopping these Dodgers after they led the majors with 104 wins during the regular season. With Kershaw firing away at the top of a deep pitching staff and co-NLCS MVPs Justin Turner and Chris Taylor leading a tough lineup, one of baseball's most storied franchises captured its first pennant since Hall of Famer Tommy Lasorda managed Kirk Gibson, Orel Hershiser and Co. to Los Angeles' last championship in 1988.

"Every night it is a different guy," Turner said, "and this is one of the most unbelievable teams I've ever been a part of."

Kershaw will be on the mound again when the Dodgers host the New York Yankees or Houston Astros in Game 1 of the World Series on Tuesday night. The Yankees have a 3-2 lead heading into Game 6 of the ALCS at Houston on Friday night, so one more New York win would set up another chapter in an old October rivalry between the Yankees and Dodgers.

Los Angeles made the playoffs eight times in the previous 13 seasons and came up short of its 22nd pennant each time, often with Kershaw shouldering much of the blame. The three-time NL Cy Young Award winner took the loss when his team was eliminated by the Cubs in Game 6 of last year's NLCS at Wrigley Field.

The ace left-hander was just OK during his first two starts in this year's postseason, but Los Angeles' offense picked him up each time. Backed by Hernandez's powerful show in Chicago, Kershaw turned in an efficient three-hit performance with five strikeouts and improved to 6-7 in the playoffs - matching Burt Hooton's club record for postseason wins.

"To get to be on the mound tonight and get to be going to the World Series on the same night, it's a special thing," Kershaw said. "Who knows how many times I'm going to get to go to the World Series? I know more than anybody how hard it is to get there. So, I'm definitely not taking this one for granted."

When Kenley Jansen retired Willson Contreras on a liner to shortstop for the final out, the party was on . The Dodgers poured out of the dugout and mobbed their dominant closer near the mound, and a small but vocal group of Los Angeles fans gathered behind the visitors' dugout and chanted "Let's go Dodgers! Let's go Dodgers!"

On the field, manager Dave Roberts hugged Lasorda and told the iconic skipper the win was for him.

"I bleed Dodger blue just like you," Roberts said. "Thank you, Tommy."

Hernandez connected on the first two pitches he saw, belting a solo drive in the second for his first career playoff homer and then a grand slam in the third against Hector Rondon. Hernandez added a two-run shot in the ninth against Mike Montgomery.

The 26-year-old Hernandez became the fourth player with a three-homer game in a league championship series, joining Bob Robertson (1971 NLCS), George Brett (1978 ALCS) and Adam Kennedy (2002 ALCS). Hernandez's seven RBIs tied a postseason record shared by four other players who all did it in a Division Series.

Troy O'Leary was the previous player to have seven RBIs in a playoff game, for Boston at Cleveland in the 1999 ALDS.

It was a stunning display for a player with 28 career homers who remains concerned about his native Puerto Rico, which is recovering from a devastating hurricane. He delivered a historic performance in front of his father, Enrique Hernandez Sr., who was diagnosed with a blood cancer related to leukemia in December 2015, but got word last November that he was in remission.

"For me to be able to come here and do something like this is pretty special," said Hernandez, who also goes by Kik�. "My body's here, but my mind's kind of back home. It's hard being away from home with what's going on.

"All I want to do right now is go to my dad and give him a big hug."

Kris Bryant homered for Chicago, but the NL Central champions finished with just four hits in another tough night at the plate. Each of their eight runs in the NLCS came via the long ball, and they batted just .156 for the series with 53 strikeouts.

Long playoff runs in each of the last two years and a grueling five-game Division Series against Washington seemed to sap Chicago of some energy, and its pitching faltered against sweet-swinging Los Angeles. Jose Quintana was pulled in the third inning of the final game, and the Cubs never recovered.

"They executed their plan," Bryant said. "They pitched great and the bullpen was lights out. That makes for a tough time scoring runs."

Turner and Taylor helped put it away for Los Angeles, contributing to a 16-hit outburst while closing out a pair of impressive performances.

Turner singled home Taylor in the Dodgers' five-run third, giving him seven RBIs in the series and 24 throughout his postseason career. Taylor finished with two hits and scored two runs as the Dodgers, who have won five straight NL West titles, improved to 7-1 in this postseason.

Taylor's versatility helped Los Angeles cover for the loss of All-Star shortstop Corey Seager, who missed the series with a back injury, but is expected to return in the next round. Coming off a breakout season, the 27-year-old Taylor hit .316 with two homers and scored five times against the Cubs.

"I couldn't be happier to be a part of this and be with these guys," Taylor said. "It's been an unbelievable year, and I'm just super excited."

OUT WITH A BANG

Hernandez joined Kennedy (2002), Adrian Beltre (2011), Reggie Jackson (1977 vs. the Dodgers) and Babe Ruth (1928) as players to hit three home runs in a postseason series clincher.

LIGHTS OUT

Dodgers relievers have thrown 23 consecutive scoreless innings, a postseason record.

Are Red Sox playing a waiting game before naming their new manager?

Are Red Sox playing a waiting game before naming their new manager?

BOSTON — As soon as the American League Championship Series ends, the Red Sox could make a move for their manager.

Industry sources continue to expect Astros bench coach Alex Cora will be the Sox’ pick. No offer had been officially made as of midday Wednesday, one source close to the situation said. But the belief is such an offer waits out of respect to the Astros-Yankees ALCS that can end no later than Saturday if the series goes a full seven games. 

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“Not a doubt it is him,” the source said.

Sunday and Monday would both be off days ahead of the Tuesday night start of the World Series. That leads to the potential for at least a Red Sox announcement of Cora, if not a press conference, before the Fall Classic begins. (If the Astros advance to the World Series, it may be harder to have Cora in Boston for any length of time.)

All those who know Cora praise his ability to connect with players. The former Red Sox infielder is good friends with Dustin Pedroia. Cora’s previous knowledge of the Boston market works in his favor, as well, as does his mettle handling the media. Some question his readiness as a first-time manager, considering he would be taking over a team with great win-now expectations and complicated clubhouse dynamics.

Nothing takes the place of experience and there is such a thing as being too close to players. Ultimately, if the Sox do land Cora, 41, they would be adding the hottest up-and-coming managerial prospect who’s available on the market. The everybody-wants-him reputation could give Cora added cachet with players and certainly becomes a public-relations win for those fans following the search.

The Sox interviewed Ron Gardenhire on Wednesday. Gardenhire was the third candidate the Sox talked to and could well be the last. Cora met with the Sox on Sunday, followed by Brad Ausmus on Monday.