Today's takeaways: Lucchino looks ahead

February, 14, 2013
2/14/13
6:48
PM ET
FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Takeaways from Day 3 of Camp Farrell:

* Red Sox president Larry Lucchino arrived at camp on Thursday and discussed many topics in regards to the 2013 season.

First, he was asked whether he read the recent book by former Red Sox manager Terry Francona and Boston Globe columnist Dan Shaughnessy, which does not paint a positive picture of Red Sox ownership.

“I haven’t,” Lucchino said. “I know some people find that hard to believe, but it seems logical to me. I want to look forward, not back. I’m afraid if I do read it, I will find inaccuracies and things that will cause me to react to it in a way that would divert me to cause some kind of side show, instead of dealing with the here and now.”

He added that maybe someday he’ll get to it, but it’s not on his immediate to-do list.

Lucchino has not talked to Francona since the book was released last month, but the Red Sox president said he did send Francona a congratulatory text message when he was hired as manager of the Cleveland Indians. He was asked if he would eventually reach out to Francona.

“I don’t know. There may be somewhere down the road,” Lucchino said. “He said a number of nice things about me and us since the book’s publication has come out and I prefer to focus on those things rather than on any commentary or translation.”

* Red Sox center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury will become a free agent at the end of the 2013 season and will likely be seeking a major pay day. Lucchino admitted the club wants him to stay and that the sides will talk about a possible long-term contract at some point soon, but he did not want to address it in a public manner.

“This is not the best forum to talk about contract negotiations with any player, particularly one who’s about to be a free agent,” Lucchino said. “Would we like to have him here? Yes. Do I think there will be some negotiations that will take place during the course of the year or perhaps sooner? Possibly. We wouldn’t rule anything out. We’d very much like to have him here. We’d like to have him part of a core Red Sox team, as Ben Cherington likes to say, part of the next great Red Sox team, but I don’t think it’s appropriate to have too much of a discussion about negotiation process right now and in this forum.”

* While the Red Sox are in Florida and most fans are back in New England, the team has posted billboards around Boston that read: “What’s broke, can be fixed” and “Big things ahead.” With ticket sales down and the sellout streak likely to end in April, the Red Sox are pushing their brand.

“It’s a marketing slogan but I think this one has the added virtue of being true and transparent. We know last year, and the final month of the preceding year, were the beginning of a very downward trend for this franchise, a historic collapse, a disastrous 2012,” Lucchino said. “It was no secret things needed to be repaired, reset, rebuilt, reloaded, whatever ‘R’ word you want to use. Acknowledging it was probably an honest way to approach the season.”

* There’s a strong sense of normalcy at camp this year. There’s no drama (yet) surrounding the club, and all the early reports on new manager John Farrell have been positive from the players, coaches, staff members and ownership. Lucchino, who was a big advocate to hire Bobby Valentine for the 2012 season, gave his endorsement of the new skipper.

“Boy, I like a lot about him so far. We spent some time together during the offseason, and I remember him from his time here before, he commands respect. He also has a skill set that’s particularly important to the success of this team, his pitching expertise. He is an honest guy and I think he’ll be an outstanding Red Sox manager.”

* All of last season there was a major issue with communication between ownership, the front office, the manager and the players. All sides admitted as much in 2012, and the club is hoping to improve in that department in 2013. Lucchino said the relationship between Cherington and Farrell is important.

“The tandem, the dynamic, the friendship, the relationship, the working relationship between the manager and general manager is pretty fundamental. I think this one is as strong as it could possibly be and I think that all goes well for what’s ahead of us.”

* There’s one that got away, at least in Lucchino’s mind. When talking about the club’s offseason acquisitions, he was asked if there was one deal out there that the Red Sox could not connect with. He admitted he misses former outfielder Cody Ross, who left Boston after only one season and signed a three-year deal worth $26 million with the Arizona Diamondbacks.

“I was always a big Cody Ross fan,” Lucchino said. “To be honest, I’d say 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 do, I have great fondness for him and a lot of respect for him.”

Ross was a solid addition to the Red Sox clubhouse in 2012 and finished the season with a .267 average, including 22 homers and 81 RBIs.

“I wish him great success and I’m not surprised an old general manager that I worked with, Kevin Towers, plucked him and he’s playing out there,” Lucchino said. “But we’ve done well and that’s not to say I’m not excited about Jonny Gomes or the other outfield prospects we have here. I think our fans are going to fall in love with Jonny Gomes.”

* Red Sox pitcher Clay Buchholz, who suffered a right hamstring strain on Tuesday, threw off the mound Thursday with the catcher standing up.

“The most important thing is that we were able to keep his arm moving,” explained Farrell. “He feels less and less restriction to that. At this point, we project another couple of days before he can throw a bullpen in earnest. He’ll go through some functional running tests on the field before we turn him loose completely, but a step in the right direction today.”

* At this point of spring training, a fun topic to ask any manager about is his potential lineup for the season. Most will say it’s too early to discuss, but Farrell indicated Thursday some of his thoughts about the possible batting order, specifically the No. 3 spot in the order.

“If I was to sketch something out, it would be David against right-handers and it might be Pedroia against left-handers,” Farrell said. “That way it puts [Shane] Victorino in the 2-hole against some left-handed pitching to take advantage of his splits. The guy that obviously has a lot of production against lefties is [Jonny] Gomes as well. There’s thought and variations to it, but that’s one of them.”

* The first official full-squad workouts begin on Friday.

Joe McDonald

Reporter, ESPNBoston.com

SPONSORED HEADLINES

Comments

You must be signed in to post a comment

Already have an account?