Red Sox

Players thank Red Sox ownership for offseason moves

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Players thank Red Sox ownership for offseason moves

By Sean McAdam
CSNNE.com

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Ordinarily, when management and ownership address the Red Sox players prior to the first full squad workout, it's an upbeat affair.

Optimism reigns and the season is full of possibilities. But Saturday morning, at the Red Sox' Player Development Complex, it was a virtual love-in. Players gave principal owner John Henry, chairman Tom Werner and president Larry Lucchino a standing ovation, in an apparent thanks for the moves made and the money spent this offseason.

In all, it was a morning of high hopes and good feeling all around.

"We're tremendously excited,'' said Werner.

"There's very definitely a sense of confidence, a sense of optimism,'' echoed Lucchino. "You feel it when you first walk into camp and talk to individual players. The meeting today had that kind of feel to it today. But everyone knows that hope springs eternal every spring. We've got to make sure we're healthy and that the good luck and randomness in the game work in our favor as well.

"But there's an atmosphere here that is extremely positive, confident and upbeat that's very encouraging.''

Other items of interest:

Lucchino said the the Red Sox paid about 85 million into the MLB central fund in revenue sharing last year, a figure topped only by the Yankees. That figure doesn't include another 1.3 million in luxury tax assessments for going over the payroll threshold.

With the final round of renovations of Fenway Park nearing completition, the Sox have invested about 285 million over the last 10 years.

Lucchino said structural engineers told him that Fenway, which celebrates its 100th anniversary next season, can last another 40-50 years.

"That's the life expectancy,'' said Lucchino. "Whether somebody chooses in 10 years time to make a change would be up to a different ownership.''

Disputing the commonly-held belief that the Sox are the clear favorites to win the American League East, Henry said: "I don't see us as the clear favorites. I see the teams fairly evenly matched. We've got our work cut out for us if we hope to win our division.''

"I feel the same way,'' said Lucchino. "This is just not a mano-a-mano, two-team match. We've got other teams that are building solid teams and making substantial commitments. So the American League East will still be the rough and tuble American League East -- make no mistake about that.''

"We're confident,'' added Werner, "but the Yankees are every bit as strong as they always are.''

Asked about the future of general manager Theo Epstein, John Henry said: "We haven't had any substantive conversations recently. I always ask him how he's doing. Things are going extremely well from his vantage point and our vantage point.

"I really don't know when his contract is up. So we haven't discussed contracts. But the important thing is that we're all extremely happy working with Theo.''

Werner said the Red Sox might look into bringing Liverpool to Fenway for a friendly match and would be receptive to having the Red Sox play in an international venue.

But ownership went to great pains again to point out that the club's various investments -- NASCAR, Liverpool soccer -- are separate.

"They're all stand-alone entities that have their own management,'' said Werner. "We have a firewall between them so that's clear.''

Lucchino said the Sox have enough financial flexibility to add payroll if the need arises during the season.

"We always save some amount of money, to be determined each year,'' said Lucchino. "We will certainly look to make improvements if the team is in the hunt and there's a specific need and a specific opportunity. I think that's part of an obligation of ownership.

Commissioner Bud Selig's contract is up in November 2012 and he has said he intends to retire. Occasionally, Lucchino's name surfaces as a possible candidate for the position.

"Speculation -- the little bit of it that's been -- is flattering,'' he said. "I'm really very content where I am. If you're a baseball executive, this is the best place to be. I love Boston, New England. My family loves it. It seems like the rest of my career was sort of building up so that this could be the final stage of it.

"That's not something I spend any time thinking about. First of all, I don't know that the other clubs will feel a commissioner change is desirable. It's flattering, but it's not realistic.''

Sean McAdam can be reached at smcadam@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Sean on Twitter at http:twitter.comsean_mcadam

ALCS: Judge, Sabathia help Yankees beat Astros, 8-1

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ALCS: Judge, Sabathia help Yankees beat Astros, 8-1

NEW YORK - Aaron Judge hit a three-run homer and a made pair of sparkling catches, leading CC Sabathia and the Yankees over the Houston Astros 8-1 Monday night and cutting New York's deficit to 2-1 in the best-of-seven AL Championship Series.

Sabathia allowed three hits over six scoreless innings for his first postseason win in five years. Todd Frazier hit a go-ahead, three-run homer for the Yankees, who stopped a seven-game ALCS losing streak dating to Sabathia's victory over Texas in 2010.

Sonny Gray starts Game 4 Wednesday on 11 days' rest, likely against Brad Peacock or Lance McCullers Jr.

Back in the Bronx after a pair of 2-1 losses in Houston, the Yankees led 8-0 after four innings. Houston scored on a bases-loaded walk in the ninth before postseason star Jose Altuve grounded into a game-ending double play with the bases loaded.

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Brad Ausmus interviews with Red Sox, but Alex Cora appears frontrunner

Brad Ausmus interviews with Red Sox, but Alex Cora appears frontrunner

BOSTON — Brad Ausmus was the second person to interview to replace John Farrell as Red Sox manager, baseball sources confirmed Monday afternoon. The Sox are expected to interview Ron Gardenhire, the Diamondbacks' bench coach, as well.

But the net might not be cast too wide. More and more, it sounds like the Sox already know whom they want.

Astros bench coach Alex Cora, who met with Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski in New York on Sunday, appears the frontrunner to take the reins next year. The Athletic's Ken Rosenthal has reported that to be the case multiple times, and for some inside the Sox organization, that's a growing feeling as well.

MORE:

The criteria the Sox value most isn't hard to guess: a strong connection with players, an ability to incorporate data and analytics; and someone who can handle the market.

"I knew Alex for a couple of years before getting a chance to work with him and had tried to recruit him to work a few years ago and he had other options," Astros manager A.J. Hinch said Monday in New York, before Game 3 of the American League Championship Series against the Yankees. "To watch him develop relationships with the players, he's all about baseball. He's all about the competition and small advantages within the game, one of the brightest baseball intellects that I've been around. And to see him pass some of that on and transition from player to TV personality to coach, he's had a ton of impact.

"He challenges people. He challenges me. He's someone who's all about winning. And I think to watch our players respond to him, he's got a lot of respect in that clubhouse because of the work he puts in and the attention to detail that he brings. That's why he's the hottest managerial candidate on the planet and deservedly so."

Cora joined the Astros before this season.

Ausmus, whom Dombrowski hired in Detroit ahead of the 2014 season, grew up in Connecticut and went to Dartmouth. The 48-year-old spent 18 seasons as a big-league catcher, the last in 2010. He was working for the Padres before Dombrowski gave him his first shot at managing the Tigers. 

Ausmus went 314-332 in four years managing the Tigers, a more veteran team than might have been ideal for him as a first-time manager.

Ausmus pulled out of the running to interview with the Mets, per Jon Heyman of Fan Rag while Cora was expected to interview with the Mets on Monday or Tuesday, per the New York Post's Mike Puma.

What could change from here? One baseball source indicated a second interview with Cora was expected. Asked if he plans a second round of interviews generally, Dombrowski did not say.

"We have started the interview process," Dombrowski wrote via email. "I do not have any specific time frames at this point. Will wait and evaluate as we go through the process."

The Boston Herald's Chad Jennings first reported Ausmus' interview.

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