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Checking in with Theo Epstein

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff  June 29, 2011 05:52 PM

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PHILADELPHIA — Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein just met with reporters for 20 minutes in the dugout. Here's what he had to say about the salient issues surrounding the team:

On Adrian Gonzalez playing the outfield: “That was a tough call. There were strong arguments on both sides. But in the end, it’s something we’re all on the same page about, that it’s worth trying. Adrian has given the adequate assurances that he won’t exert himself too much out there running, throwing or up against the wall.”

Epstein said the motivation for the move was to get David Ortiz playing time more than anything else and that the team's recent performance was not a factor.

On Josh Reddick's recent play: "Josh has played really well. More so than any stats, it's really nice to see his maturation. Especially with his approach at the plate. He's been a guy who, from the day he signed, had plenty of bat speed to hit in the big leagues The ball came off his barrel great. It's just a matter of refining his approach at the plate a little bit, getting it a little more disciplined, a little more selective without taking away the aggression that's a big part of his game. ... He's managing his at-bats better."

"It's a great sign that he's been able to mature a lot as a hitter."

Epstein said Reddick's ceiling is to be an everyday outfielder. But that was not the plan for this season.

Could Clay Buchholz pitch before the All-Star break? "I don't know. We're going to go slow with this one and as (Terry Francona) said, make sure he's 100 percent before he gets back on the mound. I don't have an answer for you on that one. Things would have to improve pretty quickly here for him to have a chance to do that."

Epstein later explained that Buchholz has a muscle issue that affects only in a certain point in his delivery. "It's something that we have to knock out," he said.

On the lack of production from right field: "I haven't checked in the last day or two. I think we've scored more runs than anybody in baseball. Obviously we're happy with the overall production. You're never going to have the exact production you want out of every position.

"It's certainly a spot where we're not producing much. Concern? I wouldn't say concern. Obviously we've noticed. You'd have to be blind not to notice that we're not getting much out of right field. We're all expecting to get more out of it going forward. It's a combination of letting the players with good track records play and sooner or later find their stroke and also while we're banged up, giving other guys opportunities and seeing who can get hot. These things all work themselves out.

"It will get better. There's no way we're going to have the same production the rest of the year that we've had to far. We'll improve internally and there's a chance we'll improve at various spots externally. It'll get better."

On speculation from Peter Gammons on WEEI that John Lackey will need Tommy John surgery: "You can say the same about every pitcher in baseball. Every pitcher in baseball might have to have Tommy John surgery at some point. John had an elbow injury We're not hiding that. He's had a history of elbow issues in the past."

(Earlier today, Terry Francona said that if Lackey needed surgery, he wouldn't be pitching.)

Does Lackey have a ligament tear? "I can't discuss that. First off, almost every pitcher has, by standard definition, has a tear of some sort in the shoulder or elbow. That's just the nature of throwing a baseball overhand. It's accurate to say that he had an elbow injury earlier this year and got a shot for that that alleviated some of the symptoms and we're going to monitor it closely."

On Ryan Kalish: "His shoulder is doing really well. Unfortunately he had a little bit of a setback with a neck/trap-type injury that has been a nuisance for him. As of a day or two ago, he was still feeling and still looking for advice on how long that would be and how limiting it would be. It has slowed him down a little bit. The silver lining is it gives his shoulder a little more time to heal."

Will the Sox be active at the trade deadline? "We will definitely be actively involved in trade discussions and we'll see. We may be very active in trade or we may be less active and do some smaller things. We'll see. We're certainly not a perfect club. There are needs that we have and areas we're going to attempt to upgrade."

Could the Sox add payroll? "We never address payroll matters at all. But I think the track record of the ownership group speaks for itself. Whether it's during the offseason building the club or during July when we're tweaking it, as an organization collectively we find a way to do what it takes to put a winning club on the field. Or at least try really hard to do that. I'm not going to get into specifics about the finances but I think we'll be aggressive and we'll find ways to make improvements when needed."

On the bullpen: "I really like our depth. ... Losing Rich Hill was a bit of a blow with how effective he looked like he was going to be against good lefthanded hitters. That's something we're still trying to address. (Franklin) Morales is up here now and threw really well last night, so we'll see how he does. I think we have the horses to have a really good bullpen but there will be some tweaking going on."

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