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"I never told a general manager who he should trade or shouldn't trade. That's not up to me. ... We believe in Theo. He thought he was doing what was in the best interests of the organization." -- JOHN HENRY, Red Sox owner

Force play

Page 2 of 3 -- While calling the trade "extremely difficult -- he was the face of the franchise," Henry said Epstein had his full support, in answer to a question of whether he had contemplated the fallout this October if the Sox fail to make the playoffs while a Cubs team fortified by Garciaparra goes to the World Series.

"The fact is, I support our general manager," Henry said. "I never told a general manager who he should trade or shouldn't trade. That's not up to me. Believe it or not, it's not done by Larry, either. We believe in Theo. He thought he was doing what was in the best interests of the organization."

Henry said he was in accordance with the club's assertion, after Garciaparra met with team trainers and manager Terry Francona last Wednesday in Baltimore, that the shortstop had indicated he could miss a significant amount of playing time this month because of his injury. That left the club little choice, Henry said, but to make a deal for another shortstop.

"Let's put it this way," Henry said. "I was in my office in Fenway Park when Theo called and said, `You'd better come down here; I want you to hear something.' I went down to his office and he put the manager on the phone. I heard what I also read [later] in the newspapers, directly from the manager. He has a duty to report such things.

"Do I believe it? Absolutely. After that conversation, Theo, Larry, and I met, and Theo said that everything had been fully disclosed to Chicago and that he didn't know if they still had interest [in Garciaparra], but that we needed somebody to play shortstop."

Tellem's revelation to Epstein that he had to talk Garciaparra out of demanding a trade came, according to Henry, in a telephone conversation between the agent and Epstein July 25, the day after the player and agent had met with Epstein, Lucchino, and Henry. Garciaparra expressed his desire to demand a trade, according to Henry, before that meeting.

After his debut with the Cubs Sunday in Chicago, Garciaparra said that Henry had spoken to him just once this season. He later amended that twice, saying Henry had attempted to contact him after the shortstop's charity bowling event, then acknowledging the July 24 meeting with Henry and other members of the brass.

Henry acknowledged that Garciaparra's remarks implied that a fissure existed between player and owner. "That's why three times I expressed an interest in meeting with him," Henry said. "The first time was when he came back to play [Garciaparra returned June 9, after missing the season's first 57 games]. I said, `Look, Nomar, there are two things I want to express.   Continued...

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