Jon Lester has admitted to drinking beer with Josh Beckett and John Lackey in the clubhouse during Red Sox games this season. But all three pitchers denied a report that they were drinking in the dugout during games.
WHDH television reported earlier today that the trio would fill cups with Bud Light as early as the sixth inning and that the practice became more frequent later in the season. The report cited two unidentified team employees.
A team source confirmed the report to the Globe. But just after 11 p.m. tonight, the Red Sox issued a press release denying the explosive allegations. Former manager Terry Francona was included.
“The accusation that we were drinking in the dugout during games is completely false,” Lester said. “Anonymous sources are continuing to provide exaggerated and, in this case, inaccurate information to the media.”
The WHDH report described Beckett as the instigator of the drinking. Beckett has not replied to several requests for comment but did issue a statement through the team.
“I cannot let this allegation go without response; enough is enough,” he said. “I admit that I made mistakes along the way this season, but this has gone too far. To say that we drank in the dugout during the game is not true.”
Said Lackey: “There are things that went on this season that shouldn’t have happened, but this latest rumor is not true, and I felt that it was important to try to stop this from going any further.”
Francona, who last month said poor team chemistry was a factor in the September collapse, said, “In 32 years of professional baseball, I have never seen someone drinking beer in the dugout.”
The statement quoted team president Larry Lucchino as well.
“Tonight our organization has heard directly from Jon, Josh, John, and former manager Terry Francona. Each has assured us that the allegation that surfaced today about drinking in the dugout during games in 2011 is false, and we accept their statements as honest and factual,” he said.
“As we continue our internal examination to fully understand what went wrong in September, 2011, we appreciate these strong and clear statements from our players. It is time to look forward and move forward, rather than allow a reckless, unsubstantiated accusation from ‘anonymous sources’ to mislead the public.”
On Monday, Lester said that the three pitchers would have what he described as “rally beers” in the clubhouse.
“It was the wrong thing to do. But most of the times it was one beer, a beer. It was like having a Coke in terms of how it affected you mentally or physically,” he said. “I know how it looks to people and it probably looks bad. But we weren’t up there just drinking and eating and nobody played video games. We watched the game. We cared about what happened. We’d go in, get a beer and go back on the bench.”