Red Sox

Sam Kennedy: Red Sox accepting White House invite was 'easy decision'

Sam Kennedy: Red Sox accepting White House invite was 'easy decision'

While it remains to be seen which Boston Red Sox players attend the White House, the team's decision-makers are on the same page about the pending visit.

Red Sox president and CEO Sam Kennedy confirmed Tuesday his club received an invitation from President Donald Trump's office "about a month ago" to celebrate their 2018 World Series championship at the White House.

And while the issue caused some "discussion" involving manager Alex Cora and president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski, Kennedy insisted there was no "disagreement" within the Red Sox about whether to accept Trump's invite.

"It was actually a relatively easy decision," Kennedy said Tuesday on WEEI's "Dale & Holley" radio show. "Those guys were fully on board, and I was on board, and also (Red Sox principal owner) John Henry and (chairman) Tom Werner -- who ultimately make a lot of decisions facing the franchise -- were on board. So we talked a lot about it, but there was actually no disagreement. Quite the opposite."

The same can't be said for the 2017 Philadelphia Eagles, who had their White House visit rescinded, or the 2017-18 Golden State Warriors, who declined their invitation. But Kennedy insisted Boston's decision is keeping in the franchise's tradition.

"We wanted to be consistent with our policy," Kennedy said. "It's an honor to be invited; we went after '04, '07 and '13 under different administrations and different individuals, and so we see it as a continuation of that policy."

The Red Sox are "trying to figure out logistics and dates," per Kennedy, who noted each Red Sox staffer will be free to choose whether they attend. For Kennedy's part, he's doing his best to keep politics on the sideline.

"We don't see it as a political event," he added. "Clearly when you go to the White House, it's an honor and a privilege and one that we take very, very seriously. It has never been from our perspective an endorsement of a politician or a policy or procedures.

"In the past we've had a great turnout from the clubhouse, and we'll see if that changes."

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Chris Sale doesn't sound quite so convinced of Red Sox' sign-stealing innocence as his teammates

Chris Sale doesn't sound quite so convinced of Red Sox' sign-stealing innocence as his teammates

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- A parade of Red Sox players and executives has spent a month assuring us of their innocence and inevitable exoneration once MLB completes its investigation into sign-stealing during the championship 2018 season.

Leave it to plainspoken and accountable Red Sox ace Chris Sale to offer a more nuanced opinion on Sunday.

Speaking publicly for the first time since August, Sale spent about a third of his 30-minute press conference detailing his frustrations with the actions of the 2017 Astros, but he didn't let the Red Sox or manager Alex Cora off the hook when it came to the subject of 2018 and how fans might question the team's accomplishments.

"It's tough, but I understand it," he said. "It's part of the gig. Given what happened with the Astros and then AC coming over and possibly bringing something over, I understand it. They're only trying to do their job and make right by all this."

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Sale acknowledged speaking to investigators this winter, and he spoke passionately about wanting to leave the game in better shape than he found it.

"I want to help make this right," he said. "Is it frustrating? Yeah. It took 30 minutes out of one of my days in the offseason? Whatever. But to get the truth and to make this a better game, I'm in. That's what I've talked about basically this whole interview, getting all this right and making this a better game when I leave."

With an investigation hanging over them, the Red Sox struck a decidedly more muted tone than other outraged opponents, with players like L.A.'s Cody Bellinger and Cincinnati's Trevor Bauer blasting Houston as unrepentant cheaters.

"Yeah, it sucks. But what am I going to do? Am I going to hold them at gunpoint?" Sale asked. "Am I going to sit here and curse them out through a bunch of cameras? If I have something to say to them I know those guys. I can get one of their numbers and text them and talk to them face-to-face or whatever. It happened. What are you going to do about it? You can sit around and cry about it or I can get my ass to work and try and win a championship."

Sale does wonder about one start. The Astros pounded him for nine hits and seven runs, including three homers, in Game 1 of the 2017 ALDS. That was Sale's first playoff start, and he has always wondered if Houston knew what was coming.

"I think they ran out of fireworks in Houston," he said. "That guy on the train, I must have kept his job for another year. That was tough. I was standing out there on the mound and saying, 'How the hell are they doing …' They were hitting breaking balls over the fence, hitting fastballs at their neck. Yeah, it crosses your mind. But what kind of idiot do you look like if they actually weren't doing anything? I'm not going to sit there and say they were because I don't have 100 percent evidence. I guess there is in the investigation, but in that specific scenario I don't know.

"You kind of chalk it up to they were a great team that year. It was my first playoff start and I didn't know what I was getting myself into. It happened quick. I was sitting in the locker room afterward and like, 'Man, what just happened.' Knowing what I know now, could it be? Maybe. I'm not here to point fingers. I'm not here to blame anybody. Nothing I do or say today is going to change anything from that start or 10 starts ago or eight years ago."

Sale admitted that players could take matters into their own hands and police the game on the field. Sale did exactly that in 2014 with the White Sox, when he drilled Detroit's Victor Martinez, reportedly in the belief that Martinez was being relayed signs from center field.

"It will be interesting to see how this plays out," Sale said. "I think you're going to see some stuff happen this year. I don't know if it is right, wrong, or indifferent. Guys are certainly welcome to handle things how they want. Different people handle different things differently. And in this scenario I don't think there is any right or wrong way. Guys are going to do what they feel is necessary. I think some people feel more cheated than others, and rightfully so."

And that brings us back to the Red Sox. At the end of Sale's remarks, a reporter basically tried to put words in his mouth that the Red Sox won without cheating, and Sale didn't take the bait.

"It's under investigation right now," he said. "Until that comes out, no one's going to believe what I say. We can sit up here as players and an organization and say all the things we want, but until the hammer drops, that's when the truth comes out. Just kind of wasted breath for me to sit up here and keep talking about it."

Quite the contrary. He had already said quite a bit.

Kevin Pillar excited for 'amazing opportunity' with Red Sox

Kevin Pillar excited for 'amazing opportunity' with Red Sox

The Boston Red Sox made an under-the-radar move to add depth to their outfield earlier this week. They signed former Toronto Blue Jays and San Francisco Giants outfielder Kevin Pillar to a one-year deal to add a righty-hitting bat to their lineup.

Pillar has only been with the team for a short time. And his presence won't soon make the Red Sox fans forget about Mookie Betts. But he does seem motivated to find success in Boston.

"I think it's an amazing opportunity for me," Pillar said to reporters at the Red Sox spring training facility on Saturday. "I think anytime you get to put a Boston Red Sox uniform on, it's something to not take lightly. It's a historic organization, an organization that's always trying to win.

"I feel like I'm best suited for a team that's trying to win. My style of play is conducive for going out there and doing whatever it takes to try to get a win every day. And I'm excited for an opportunity to try and do that here."

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Pillar also seems comfortable with his teammates and is already building chemistry with the squad.

"Just in the day and a half I've been here, the guys have been very welcoming," Pillar said. "It seems like a close-knit group of guys and I'm excited to get this thing started.:

This certainly is encouraging for the Sox. Pillar is definitely bringing a good attitude to the job and being hungry to win should give him a chance to pan out as a successful signing.

Pillar will likely start the Red Sox season as the starting right fielder. Alex Verdugo -- the big piece acquired in the Betts trade and likely the future starter in right field -- may not be ready to start the season as he deals with a stress fracture in his back.

Pillar has mostly played center field during his career but stated that he's happy to move to right field to allow Jackie Bradley Jr. to continue to play his best position.

Last season, Pillar hit .259 and socked a career-high 21 homers while spending most of the season with the Giants. The Red Sox will hope that he can continue to supply power in the hitter-friendly confines of Fenway Park.