Tek to catch more than 'average backup'

January, 31, 2011
BOSTON -- Odds and ends from Monday’s interview session with Red Sox chairman Tom Werner, CEO Larry Lucchino, Red Sox GM Theo Epstein, and manager Terry Francona prior to their appearance on a televised “town hall:”

* Francona said new catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia had finished two months of voluntary workouts with bullpen coach Gary Tuck, a.k.a. "Camp Tuck".

“Camp Tuck might have finished him,’’ Francona said.

The manager said bench coach DeMarlo Hale dropped in on one of the workouts and “after about two hours he felt bad for Salty.’’

Francona saluted both the coach and player for their work (“How often do you see that?’’). “It’ll be interesting to see where he’s at,’’ Francona said. “It’s an important position for us. I think we’re showing an awful lot of confidence in him.

“But I also think it’s neat where [Jason Varitek] has worked to be at the point he is. I think ‘Tek will probably catch more than the average backup catcher does.’’

* Lucchino said he expects Fenway Park's capacity to increase by roughly 100 seats to around 37,500 for night games, a few hundred fewer for day games. The Sox also can sell anywhere from 500 to 1,500 standing room admissions, but with comps, etc., Lucchino said capacity will be pegged around the 37,500 figure. He expressed confidence that the team will extend its record consecutive sellout streak, saying the team has sold around 2.1 million tickets, but stressed that hundreds of thousands of tickets remain available.

* Epstein said that new pitching coach Curt Young has not spoken with either Daisuke Matsuzaka or Hideki Okajima, citing mostly “logistical” issues. He said that Matsuzaka has been working out “extremely hard” and may have started throwing earlier this winter (“in moderation”) but that his training regimen is not markedly different than it was last winter. Epstein contended that Matsuzaka’s stuff was better than his record indicated last season, but hopes the results this season are closer to the way he performed his first two seasons here.

* Werner said he was “very confident” that owners and players will peacefully reach a new collective bargaining agreement; the current agreement expires in November. “I think there has been a very healthy give-and-take already between management and the players’ union,’’ he said. “I’m confident we’ll work out our problems amicably.’’

* Werner, who sits on numerous ownership committees, was asked about the ownership issues facing two major franchises, the Los Angeles Dodgers and New York Mets. Dodger ownership is clouded by the divorce proceedings of Frank and Jamie McCourt, while Mets owner Fred Wilpon has just been sued for several hundred million dollars by the trustee for the victims of the Bernie Madoff Ponzi scheme.

“In every sport, it’s important that the individual owners of franchises are financially strong,’’ Werner said. “I’m friendly with both Fred Wilpon and his son [Jeff] and friendly with the McCourts. Obviously, it’s important to the health of the game that you [have] owners who financially can weather these problems. Obviously both of these franchises are going through some tough problems, but basically baseball will weather these storms. They’re great franchises; they’ll both be fine.’’

But will the McCourts and Wilpon weather them?

“I don’t want to talk too much about what’s going on,’’ he said. “I’m sure these problems will be ironed out quickly.’’

* Epstein spoke very favorably of Josh Beckett's effort this winter, saying he has been “attacking the off-season,” working with a personal trainer and Sox trainer Mike Reinold. Francona said he also talked recently with Beckett, who just got married back home in Texas.

“If I called him with a pep talk he’d panic,’’ Francona said. “He knows I trust him. Guys are human. Doesn’t matter if you make a lot of money or a little money, things don’t go right sometimes. It was hard for him last year. Regardless of who he was, it was a hard year. You either penalize them or try to show confidence in a guy and hope he bounces back, because that’s how we’ll be a better team.’’

Gordon Edes

ESPN Staff Writer



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