Boston Red Sox Spring Training Workout Session

Red Sox release statement denying allegations pitchers drank beer in dugout

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The Red Sox released a series of statements late tonight in response to a report from Joe Amorosino of WHDH-7 NBC in Boston earlier this afternoon, which claimed that pitchers Josh Beckett, John Lackey and Jon Lester drank beer in the dugout during games this season.

Former Red Sox manager Terry Francona provided a statement, as well as Beckett, Lackey, Lester and team president and CEO Larry Lucchino.

Here is the release from the team in full:

JON LESTER: “The accusation that we were drinking in the dugout during games is completely false. Anonymous sources are continuing to provide exaggerated and, in this case, inaccurate information to the media.

JOSH BECKETT: “I cannot let this allegation go without response; enough is enough. I admit that I made mistakes along the way this season, but this has gone too far. To say that we drank in the dugout during the game is not true.”

JOHN LACKEY: “There are things that went on this season that shouldn’t have happened, but this latest rumor is not true, and I felt that it was important to try to stop this from going any further.”

TERRY FRANCONA: “In 32 years of professional baseball, I have never seen someone drinking beer in the dugout.”

PRESIDENT/CEO LARRY LUCCHINO ON BEHALF OF THE BOSTON RED SOX: “Tonight our organization has heard directly from Jon, Josh, John, and former manager Terry Francona. Each has assured us that the allegation that surfaced today about drinking in the dugout during games in 2011 is false, and we accept their statements as honest and factual.

“As we continue our internal examination to fully understand what went wrong in September, 2011, we appreciate these strong and clear statements from our players.

“It is time to look forward and move forward, rather than allow a reckless, unsubstantiated accusation from ‘anonymous sources’ to mislead the public.”

And with that, hopefully we can consider this issue dead and buried.

It sure will be nice to have some a baseball game on the schedule tomorrow, huh?

Report: Teams reluctant to gamble on Cliff Lee

Philadelphia Phillies starting pitcher Cliff Lee throws during the first inning of a baseball game against the Washington Nationals at Nationals Park Thursday, July 31, 2014, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
AP Photo/Alex Brandon
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In Saturday’s column for the Boston Globe, Nick Cafardo suggests that free agent Cliff Lee is seeking a guaranteed major league deal between $6 and $8 million plus incentives. That is turning some otherwise interested teams away, as the lefty is still recovering from a torn flexor tendon in his left elbow. Lee hasn’t pitched since July 31, 2014.

Last month, Lee’s agent Darek Braunecker said the pitcher would need “a perfect fit” to pitch in 2016. He also noted that Lee has begun a full offseason throwing program.

In his most recent season, Lee compiled a 3.65 ERA with 72 strikeouts and 12 walks in 81 1/3 innings for the Phillies. The Phillies had signed him to a five-year, $120 million contract in December 2010 but declined a club option for the 2016 season, instead buying him out for $12.5 million.

Orioles reconsidering signing Yovani Gallardo

Yovani Gallardo
AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez
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In an article for MASN on Friday, Steve Melewski noted that the Orioles were reluctant to forfeit their first round draft pick (14th overall) in order to sign free agent starter Yovani Gallardo. The club is now reconsidering its stance and rechecking the right-handers medicals, MASN’s Roch Kubatko reports.

Gallardo, who turns 30 on February 27, posted a 3.42 ERA with 121 strikeouts and 68 walks over 184 1/3 innings for the Rangers last season. The Rangers had acquired him in a trade with the Brewers, sending Luis Sardinas, Corey Knebel, and minor leaguer Marcos Diplan to Milwaukee.

Gallardo has posted an ERA below 4.00 in six of his last seven seasons. He remains unsigned into February, however, because his strikeout rate has rapidly decreased with each year since 2012. Per FanGraphs, that rate was 23.7 percent in 2012, then went to 18.6 percent, 17.9 percent, and 15.3 percent progressively. Some of that may have to do with diminishing fastball velocity, as Gallardo’s 90.4 MPH average marked a career low among his eight full seasons with at least 100 innings pitched.

The Orioles lost starter Wei-Yin Chen, who signed with the Marlins, and the back end of their rotation is highly speculative with Kevin Gausman, Mike Wright, Odrisamer Despaigne, and Tyler Wilson. Adding a veteran like Gallardo, even if he is apparently declining, may be stabilizing.

Freddy Garcia is calling it a career

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Elsa/Getty Images North America
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MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez passes along word from the Dominican Republic that right-hander Freddy Garcia will hang up his cleats for good after Sunday’s Caribbean Series championship game.

Garcia will start that game for the Tigres de Aragua out of Venezuela. He’s taking on Mexico’s Venados de Mazatlan.

“Venezuelan fans are expecting something good from Freddy and so is everybody,” said Tigres de Aragua manager Eddie Perez, who also serves as the bullpen coach for the Atlanta Braves. “Knowing that it’s his last game is going to make it very special. We all hope he pitches a really good game so he can retire in a good way and bring the title for Venezuela. Everybody who is rooting for Venezuela expects him to do well.”

Garcia’s last major league game was in the 2013 postseason. The 39-year-0ld will finish with a 4.15 ERA, 1.30 WHIP, and 6.4 K/9 in 2,264 career regular-season innings. He had a 3.26 ERA in 11 playoff starts, winning a World Series title with the White Sox in 2005.

Video: 2016 will be a season to remember

Carlos+Correa+Houston+Astros+v+Arizona+Diamondbacks+Ctyu5RiU3SWl
Christian Petersen/Getty Images North America
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MLB.com put together this very cool video montage reviewing the 2015 season and setting us up for what should be a wild 2016. Young stars, veterans chasing milestones, unpredictable divisional races.

It’s so close to spring training. Let’s do this.