As I’ve mentioned a couple of times this morning, Red Sox owner John Henry and team CEO Lary Lucchino sat down for an interview on WEEI this morning and offered up all manner of postmortem on the Red Sox’ 2011 season and some glimpses into the future as well. Here is audio of the entire interview. Among the highlights:
- When asked about Theo Epstein’s future, Henry said “I think there’s a certain shelf life in these jobs,” and would not say whether or not he’s granted the Cubs’ request to speak to Epstein. Lucchino said “this is one subject we don’t believe needs full disclosure.” Overall they provided no clarity on whether Epstein returns. Still, the idea that Epstein could go to the Cubs seemed crazy a few weeks ago. Seems way less crazy now.
- Henry said the decision for Terry Francona to leave wasn’t a mutual one, but that’s because they didn’t get the chance to make it mutual. Francona wanted out and told team brass that before there was a chance to consider it. Henry added, however, that it was very likely that they would have reached the same conclusion and that Francona would have been gone anyway.
- Lucchino said the team is “knee deep” in the process of hiring a replacement for Francona.
- Lucchino was asked about the drinking in the clubhouse stuff and said that the front office disapproved of that. That said “we’re still trying to dig in to find out how pervasive it was, how extensive it was, and not try to superficially conclude it was a major factor in anything.”
Nothing really shocking here. Francona was going to go anyway, it seemed. Theo could easily go. No one is overreacting to the late-season collapse or the media hype about fat, drunk ballplayers and clubhouse chaos. Just sounds like any team picking up the pieces of what for them was a failed season and trying to move forward.
Angels’ right-handed reliever Bud Norris made his 23rd appearance of the season on Friday, and after just three pitches, he was done for the night. He worked a 2-1 count to Marlins’ Dee Gordon in the eighth inning, then promptly exited the field after experiencing some tightness in his right knee. Neither Norris nor manager Mike Scioscia believe the injury is cause for major concern, and the 32-year-old right-hander admitted that it may have had something to do with his lack of stretching before he took the mound. For now, he’s day-to-day with right knee soreness, with the hope that the issue doesn’t escalate over the next few days.
While the Angels are lucky to have avoided serious injury, they’ll need Norris to pitch at 100% if they want to stay competitive within the AL West. They currently sit a full nine games behind the league-leading Astros, and haven’t been helping their cause after taking five losses in their last eight games. Friday’s 8-5 finale marked their third consecutive loss of the week.
When healthy, Norris has been one of the better arms in the Angels’ bullpen. Through 23 2/3 innings, he’s pitched to a 2.66 ERA, 3.4 BB/9 and an outstanding 11.8 SO/9 in 23 outings. The righty hasn’t allowed a single run in four straight appearances, recording three saves and helping the club clinch four wins in that span. This is his second setback of the year after sustaining a partial fingernail tear on his pitching hand during spring training.
Max Scherzer is a force to be reckoned with. The Nationals’ right-hander delivered a season-high 13 strikeouts against the Padres on Friday, locking down his fifth win and his fourth double-digit strikeout performance of the year.
More remarkably, it was also the 53rd double-digit strikeout performance of Scherzer’s career, tying Clayton Kershaw for the most 10+ strikeout appearances by an active major league pitcher. Chris Sale is a distant third, with 43 to his name, though he’s been making considerable strides to catch up so far this spring.
Scherzer took the Padres to task on Friday night, whiffing 13 of 31 batters during his 108-pitch outing. He started strong, catching Allen Cordoba swinging on a 1-2 count to start the game and keeping the game scoreless until Ryan Schimpf unleashed a home run in the fourth inning. That was the first and final run the Padres managed off of Scherzer, who retired 14 consecutive batters following the blast and came one out shy of a complete game in the ninth inning. (Fittingly, Koda Glover polished off the win with a final strikeout, bringing the total to 14 on the night.)
It’ll take more than one stellar start to advance Scherzer and Kershaw on the all-time list, however. Their 53-game record ranks 13th, about 159 games behind second-place Hall of Fame hurler Randy Johnson and a full 162 games shy of the inimitable Nolan Ryan.