BALTIMORE -- While it may not seem so to folks alarmed by the Boston Red Sox beginning Tuesday night 10 games out of first place in the AL East, general manager Ben Cherington told reporters it's still "early" and expressed confidence that the team doesn't need a roster overhaul.
"Obviously we're not happy with where we are,'' said Cherington, who joined the team here Tuesday and spoke with reporters Tuesday afternoon. "That's not up to our standard. We still believe it's going to get better. We believe we have a very good team ahead of us this year. Most of that will come from within, guys here performing, getting back to a level they're accustomed to.
"And then if we can do that and start playing a little better and win some games and hang in there, we will try to find any way we can to make improvements to the team as the summer goes on. At this point, this early in the season, we're still mostly focused on the guys who are here, find a way to play better with the guys who are here.''
Cherington indicated that the Red Sox are not close to making a trade, seven weeks in advance of the July 31 trading deadline.
The defending World Series champion Red Sox began the night with a 28-35 record, 10 games behind the Toronto Blue Jays in the AL East and five games ahead of the fifth-place Tampa Bay Rays. They have lost six of the first seven games of their current nine-game trip, having been swept three straight by the Indians in Cleveland and losing two of three to the Tigers in Detroit before losing the opener here Monday night to the Orioles 4-0.
Cherington also mocked the notion that he was pressured to re-sign shortstop Stephen Drew, saying the club did so on his recommendation. He reiterated his support for rookie Jackie Bradley Jr. as the team's center fielder, and deflected a question on whether the team was close to pulling the plug on outfielder Grady Sizemore's attempted comeback, saying "we'll see" whether Sizemore meets their expectation that he can still be a good player.
He sounded bemused that the Drew signing has attracted the degree of criticism it has, especially since the shortstop has played in just four games. Drew, who is 1-for-17 this season, sat out a second straight game Tuesday with tightness in his right oblique muscle.
"I don't know, it seems pretty early to make a judgment on that one,'' Cherington said. "You all know Stephen Drew. He is a really good major league player. We all know how good he is. We knew he's stepping back on a major league stage, seeing major league pitching. I don't think we were surprised it might take a little while to get his timing back and get comfortable.
"We signed him because we thought it would make us better over the course of a season and we still feel that way. I don't have any reason to think he won't. ... All the reasons we signed him are still in place and we'll see how it works out.''
The outfield remains the most underperforming part of the team offensively. Boston outfielders came into Tuesday's game batting a collective .223, the lowest average in the majors, and their .628 OPS ranked 29th, just ahead of the White Sox (.627). Bradley, batting .203, has been benched the last two nights after striking out in eight of 10 at-bats in Detroit. Sizemore, 2-for-19 on this trip, has been starting in center field the last two nights and is batting .218.
"In Jackie's case, he's playing really good defense, he's grinding, he's making offensive adjustments, he's here every day working to get better,'' Cherington said. "He's a very important guy for us and we feel he's the right guy. He's our center fielder.
"In Grady's case, we've seen flashes. I think he would tell you he hasn't been as consistent as he'd like to be, hasn't made the impact.
"So look, we're all in this together. We know collectively we have to get better. We've got to perform better. That starts with me. We have to make that happen. We're not ready to proclaim this has to happen, or this has to happen. It won't be any particular move."
So he's not close to pulling the plug on Sizemore?
"He's here,'' Cherington said. "He's one of our 25 guys. John's trying to put him in position to succeed and we believe Grady Sizemore is going to be a good major league player again. We're going to do whatever we can to help him be that guy here. We'll see.''
Cherington also said no resumption of contract talks with pitcher Jon Lester has been scheduled, indicating the club is content to wait for the pitcher to signal a readiness to do so, but all but ruled out moving Lester at the trading deadline.
"It's not something we would even consider," Cherington said of dealing Lester.