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Red Sox GM Epstein on Opening Day, Gonzalez Contract

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Theo Epstein (Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images)

Theo Epstein (Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images)

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BOSTON (CBS) – For Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein, opening day is one the best days of the year.

“It’s great, it makes everyone feel like a kid again,” Epstein told WBZ-TV’s Dan Roche. “You can’t sleep the night before. It’s a great day of optimism and renewal. It always seems to remind you of what you love about the game. The contract negotiations don’t matter, off-season issues don’t matter, the hype doesn’t matter. It’s the game in its purest form. Just go out and compete and try to win one of 162″

The Red Sox team he assembled over the off-season has the chance to do some very special things. A revamped lineup with the additions of Carl Crawford and Adrian Gonzalez could rival that of the 2004 team that had Manny Ramirez and David Ortiz in the heart of the order. Epstein also added more depth to his bullpen, a key problem in 2010.

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His Red Sox were heavy favorites to win the World Series before even taking the field. But Epstein has been around long enough to know it is not that simple.

“What really matters is health,” Epstein said of his team. “Knock on wood, we were pretty healthy this spring. Injuries were such a huge part of what got in our way last year that we want to really stay healthy and give ourselves a chance to make the most of our talents this year.”

Theo Epstein Talks With WBZ-TV’s Dan Roche

Although Theo, and most Red Sox fans, worry about health, he is not too concerned about signing Gonzalez to contract extension. A deal is reportedly in place to keep the slugging first baseman in Boston for seven more years, and it sounds like it is only a matter of time until it gets announced.

“Adrian’s going to get into the grind of being an  everyday player again, that’s really the last hurdle,” Theo said of his new prized first baseman. “We spent a lot of time together at the time trade, if there was a big discrepancy between how he values himself and how we value him in the market, the trade never would have happened in the first place. There’s a lot of reason for optimism once we get into April and get him playing every day.”

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Esptein also touched upon the passing of former Red Sox general manager Lou Gorman, who died Friday morning at the age of 82.

“He treated everyone exactly the way you would want to be treated,” Epstein said of Gorman. “To pull that off in a market like this with a crazy job like he had is a model for us all. We lost a big part of the organization, a class guy that everyone loved and respected. We’re not the same without him.”

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