BOSTON (CBS) – The Red Sox apologized Thursday for comments made by team adviser Bill James, who drew the ire of many across the league when he called all players replaceable.

James said sarcastically in several tweets that have since been deleted, that his “heart bleeds” for players who have been underpaid for most of their careers.

“If the players all retired tomorrow, we would replace them,” James tweeted. “The game would go on; in three years it would make no difference whatsoever. The players are NOT the game, any more than the beer vendors are.”

A pioneer in sabermetrics, James serves as a senior adviser for the Red Sox.

Major League Baseball Players Association executive director Tony Clark condemned the comments on Thursday.

“The comments Bill James made yesterday are both reckless and insulting considering our game’s history regarding the use of replacement players,” Clark said in a statement. “The Players ARE the game. And our fans have an opportunity to enjoy the most talented baseball Players in the world every season. If these sentiments resonate beyond this one individual, then any challenges that lie ahead will be more difficult to overcome than initially anticipated.”

Pitcher Justin Verlander, whose Houston Astros the Red Sox eliminated en route to a World Series title, came to the defense of Red Sox players on Twitter.

The Red Sox themselves issued an apology for James’ remarks on Thursday.

“Bill James is a consultant to the Red Sox. He is not an employee, nor does he speak for the club,” the team said. “His comments on Twitter were inappropriate and do not reflect the opinions of the Red Sox front office or its ownership group. Our championships would not have been possible without our incredibly talented players – they are the backbone of our franchise and our industry. To insinuate otherwise is absurd.”

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