BOSTON (CBS) – Red Sox principal owner John Henry spoke to the media down at the team’s Spring Training facilities in Fort Myers, Florida on Monday, and laughed at rumors that he and fellow owners Tom Werner and Larry Lucchino might be looking to sell the team.
“They didn’t turn out to be true, did they,” Henry asked the large gathering of reporters about the reports that have been floated around all off-season. ”You don’t get an opportunity to own something like the Boston Red Sox. As long as we can do it, the three of us are committed to being here. The thoughts that we’re somehow selling, they’re just erroneous.”
“The last 12 years have been the best years of my life,” said Henry. “Tom and Larry and I have had a tremendous working relationship; we’ve always been on the same page, and it’s fun working with talented people.”
Henry said he, Werner and Lucchino are intimately involved with operations on a daily basis. He also squashed any of the thoughts that their ownership of Liverpool is a distraction, and has anything to do with the Red Sox’ struggles.
“We aren’t (distracted). Last year’s losses on the field weren’t the result of Liverpool,” said Henry. “I don’t know where this fraction comes from; you could say every owner is distracted if you want to make a case for it, because they all have endeavors in other business – I think they all do.”
“Imagine if I had nothing else to do other than the Red Sox. What do you think would be different?” asked Henry.
Henry also laughed at the notion he doesn’t “love” baseball. While owning such a popular team as the Boston Red Sox can have it’s tough times, as has been illustrated over the last two seasons, winning is all Henry cares about.
“The thing that is difficult is when you lose. I don’t think there isn’t anyone in the organization that doesn’t feel it,” he said. “Certainly the three of us feel it; we watch every game. Last year, we had a lot of losses that was very painful. Aside from that, I wouldn’t say there are painful things. I know we enjoy working on this on a daily basis.”
As for getting fans back on board after the September collapse of 2011 and an overall disaster in 2012, Henry said winning in general will cure all.
“I don’t think it’s so much winning the fans back, I think of it as winning. For me, the question is how long will it take us to get back on a winning track and back to the playoffs,” he said.
Henry admits the Red Sox went off the track of their original philosophy in recent years, but he also called the notion they did so to become a more “sexy team” — as has been said in former manager Terry Francona’s new book — laughable.
“It’s ludicrous to think we signed any player, since we’ve been here, for (public relations) purposes,” scoffed Henry. “I don’t think anybody would assert that. If it’s asserted, it’s just ludicrous.”
“I think last year was a definite set back,” added Henry. “To finish in last place is something I never thought would happen while we own the team. People can say we’re brand-oriented or that we’re revenue-oriented, but the fact is we’re wins and losses-oriented and we have been since day one… For us, that’s why we’re here.”
As for the upcoming 2013 season, Henry is very optimistic in the squad that will soon take the field.
“In comparison to last year, I should be optimistic,” he said, quickly pointing out the rash of injuries that riddled the team last year. “We’re optimistic we won’t have the same injuries we had last year. At one point we had seven outfielders on the DL at one time, so you have to be optimistic, if nothing else, we’ll be healthier than last year.”
Will the Red Sox contend for a playoff spot in 2013? Henry would like to think so, but there’s still a lot of baseball to be played.
“It’s hard to know at this point. We may not be finished, but I definitely think we will contend for a playoff spot,” he said.