Red Sox chairman Tom Werner said this morning that reporter Jenny Dell, who was removed as the in-game reporter on the team’s telecasts, is free to leave NESN.
Werner made the comment during a media availability session at the Red Sox’ spring training site in Fort Myers, Florida.
“We talked about it internally, because I think that Jenny is a terrific reporter,” Werner said. “We came to the conclusion and I think Jenny came to the same conclusion that it would be a distraction for her to be a reporter, and so she’s moving on.”
Dell, who quickly gained popularity with her friendly manner among Red Sox fans when she replaced Heidi Watney before the 2012 season, was shifted in late January to a reporter/anchor role primarily with NESN Sports Today.
NESN executives had not commented previously on the specifics of why she was removed from the Red Sox broadcast. The public perception is that they made the change because of the ethical questions raised by a reporter dating a player.
Dell, who has drawn interest from national networks, went public with her relationship with third baseman Will Middlebrooks on New Year’s Eve.
“It wasn’t a black-and-white decision because [maybe she could] divorce her personal life from her professional one,” Werner said, “but in the end we decided it was time to move on.”
Werner was asked if he meant she was free to leave the network.
“She’s looking for other opportunities.”
Will she be allowed to pursue those?
“Yeah. Nothing’s been said, I but I think she’s looking for other opportunities.”
Dell has spent two years at NESN and the network picked up its third-year option on her contract.
Multiple industry sources believe at least part of the reason she was moved is as a penance for considering leaving — Fox Sports 1 expressed interest in hiring her, but that fell through — with time remaining on her contract.
Now that Werner, a successful television executive who has the last word at NESN, has said she can leave, the question becomes how soon before she does. Dell could not be reached for comment.
NESN has no specific timeframe for when it will hire a Red Sox reporter. According to industry sources, hiring a male reporter is a consideration.