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Owners provide State of the Nation address

Posted by Chris Forsberg, Boston.com Staff  February 18, 2009 10:11 AM

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FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Red Sox owners Tom Werner and John Henry and team president/CEO Larry Lucchino sat down for a 20-minute chat with the media this morning at the team's player development complex.

Among the notable topics were the upcoming season, the possibility of a salary cap, how the recession is affecting the sport, the future of spring training in Lee County, and new improvements to Fenway Park. Below is a small sampling of our the Q&A. We'll have more video from the press conference later this morning.

(On the liklihood of a salary cap in baseball)

Henry: "I think that the so-called large market to small market is united in one aspect -- united may be too strong of a word -- but I think we all agree that competitive balance is an issue. If there was a way to put together an enlightened form of a salary cap, I think everybody among the owners would support that."

(Is it feasible?)

Henry: "I think it's quite possible if you put together a partnership between the players and owners. Going forward, I think it's something that should at least be explored."

(Lucchino was asked about the A-Rod saga)

Lucchino: "I feel more comfortable talking about the Red Sox rather than the New York Yankees."

Henry: (Interjecting) "When did that change?" (Laughter)

Lucchino: "I do think the commissioner has led a real charge to put this steroid era behind us and I think admissions on the part of people, in general, are a good for the healing process."

(On the Red Sox' potential for 2009)

Henry: "We do have high expectations, it's exciting. But there's so many variables. You could possibly have the top three teams in baseball competing in the same division. It should be one hell of a pennant race (in the American League East).

(On Mike Lowell's hurt feelings after the Mark Teixeira pursuit)

Lucchino: "We said today, baseball is both a business and a sport. The business part is now behind us, the offseason and negotiations. Now it's time to recognize it's a competitive sport, to join arms. We have a bunch of very experienced players that do understand that distinction and whole are very loyal to the franchise, to their teammates, to the whole organization. We don't anticipate any sort of hangover or carry over."

(On the future of Fenway Park)

Lucchino spoke on the changes the ownership group made in its eighth year at the helm (joking that they are still referred to as the "new ownership"). He said that improvements to repair and waterproof the surface could keep Fenway Park around for another 50 years. To which Henry was asked if that was his desire.

Henry: "We're very adamant. I can't imagine replicating what we have in Fenway Park."

Click HERE to listen to the entire Q&A session.

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