Lucchino expresses optimism about Red Sox

The SportsXchange

With the Red Sox struggling, ownership was front and center Thursday night.

After spending Wednesday in Denver for the owners meetings, principal owner John Henry, chairman Tom Werner and team president Larry Lucchino flew to Baltimore to offer their support for the Red Sox in the finale of a three-game series at Camden Yards. They appeared on the field during batting practice, exchanging pleasantries with several players and embattled manager Bobby Valentine.

Speaking for the three, Lucchino addressed the sub-.500 team's fading chances to reach the playoffs entering a three-game series against the New York Yankees that begins Friday night.

"Backs to the wall? Yeah, that's all I would say," Lucchino said. "Obviously, time is expiring."

And that's not the team's only problem.

Since last September's historic collapse, the Red Sox have been besieged by turmoil. In the latest controversy, a Yahoo! Sports report this week indicated that several players called for Valentine to be fired during a July 26 meeting with ownership before a series in New York.

Lucchino admitted the Red Sox are a "long shot" to make the playoffs, but he also expressed confidence that the team's brand hasn't been irreparably harmed by the ongoing drama.

"Every franchise, every brand goes through rough times. No one is immune to the hills and valleys," Lucchino said. "We've had a long run of success. We've created very high expectations for the franchise. Sometimes those high expectations are not met, and the result is a reduction, a hit to the brand and to the team and to the fan base. The cynical, jaded media do not necessarily capture the voice of the fan base."

Lucchino also said he doesn't fear that players won't want to play for the Red Sox because of the controversies that have been swirling around the team since last September.

"I don't think that's a long-term danger," Lucchino said. "We've been relatively lucky in recent years in changing the image of Fenway, first of all. It's not an old and inadequate place to play. We've been able to fix it up for players. I do think there's probably a little bit of a reservation on the part of some players perhaps with respect to the grueling media coverage. You've just got to make sure you pick the right people and personalities to come here to be able to withstand that."
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