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News » Boston Red Sox Inside Pitch 2009-02-21


Boston Red Sox Inside Pitch 2009-02-21


Boston Red Sox Inside Pitch 2009-02-21
Wally the Green Monster won't be going homeless anytime soon if the Red Sox ownership group has anything to say about it.

The trio of principal owner John Henry, chief executive officer and team president Larry Lucchino, and chairman Tom Werner addressed the media during the first official day of spring training, and took on a wide range of topics, including the possibility of an MLB salary cap (likely) and the national economy's effect on the Red Sox (minimal at its worst).

But the nearest and dearest topic to Red Sox fans was their commitment to keeping the "lyric little bandbox" along Lansdowne Street as the home of the Red Sox for at least another five decades of big-league baseball.

"We're very adamant. I can't imagine replicating what we have in Fenway Park," Henry said. "There are a lot of elements that have gone into our record-breaking sellout streak, but I think Fenway may be the biggest one of them all."

Red Sox ownership has spent millions of dollars to drag the Fens into the 21st century, and that task will continue right through the team celebrating the park's 100th anniversary during the 2012 season.

"These guys in the ownership group have made an exceptional commitment to Fenway Park," Lucchino said. "We're in the middle of the eighth and heading into what we hope will be the ninth and final inning of Fenway improvements.

"You'll see a significant improvement in the seating bowl down the right field line. Most significantly, there's been a major effort to repair and waterproof (portions of the park).

"What you'll have is a Fenway Park that will be stable and solid -- and with normal maintenance -- will be around for another 50 years," Lucchino added.

WHERE, WHEN: City of Palms Park, Fort Myers, Fla. First exhibition game is Feb. 25 against the Minnesota Twins.

TOP CANDIDATE TO SURPRISE: RHP Brad Penny stubbornly fought through shoulder woes while pitching with the Dodgers last season and finished the year with a 6-9 record and a 6.27 ERA in 19 games. Being reunited with RHP Josh Beckett, his former teammate with the Florida Marlins, and hooking up with renowned pitching coach John Farrell in Boston could go a long way toward helping the power pitcher rebound in a big, big way.

TOP CANDIDATE TO DISAPPOINT: DH David Ortiz's power has dropped off significantly since he hit a club-record 54 home runs during the 2006 season, and he's coming off a wrist injury that clearly affected him through the second half of the 2008 season. He provided clutch fireworks again during the epic ALCS Game 5 comeback last season but couldn't consistently sustain his pop through the playoffs for Boston. Ortiz is clearly at a crossroads at 34 years old, and questions surrounding the middle of the batting order spurred the Red Sox to pursue free agent 1B Mark Teixeira this winter.

AUTHORITY FIGURES: Manager Terry Francona, with a record of 755-703, has slowly gained traction as the most successful field manager in the long history of the Red Sox franchise and wields a great deal of power benevolently in the Sox clubhouse. "Tito" has always been viewed as a players' manager and has two pretty two simple rules: "Be on time" and "Respect the game." Francona has surrounded himself with a good tactical coaching staff that includes pitching coach John Farrell and hitting coach Dave Magadan, but Francona's clear strength is dealing with the big personalities within Fenway's walls.


Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:http://www.foxsports.com
Added: February 21, 2009

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