Optimistic Red Sox set to 'let the players do the talking'

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Team president and CEO Sam Kennedy admits his organization heard lots of displeasure from the fans during the offseason.

"Pressure is definitely on the 2023 Boston Red Sox," Kennedy said Monday at the team's spring training complex on the first full day of workouts.

Following the departure of shortstop Xander Bogaerts, who signed a $280 million, 11-year free agent deal with the San Diego Padres during the offseason, and finishing last in the AL East for the fifth time in 11 seasons, Kennedy knows the fans are bothered by stars leaving and inconsistent results.

"We certainly had a lot of interest in our offseason and we heard a lot from fans. We have to be competitive. If we're competitive it'll take care of any lack of interest," Kennedy said.

"We didn't deliver on 2022 and we need to do a better job of communicating our message to our fans. That's on me, frankly. I'm the leader of the organization and if we're not effectively communicating our strategy to our fans, that's on me. That's on us. We need to get better at it."

With owner John Henry, who politely declined to speak to the reporters on hand, the Red Sox started to take the field just before 10 a.m.

Fittingly, left-hander Chris Sale was one of the first ones out the door following a clubhouse meeting that had Hall of Famer Pedro Martinez and manager Alex Cora address the group.

Sale has thrown just 48⅓ innings in the regular season during the first three years of a $145 million, five-year extension he signed with the club in March 2019. His health could be a first step to erasing the poor taste of 2022.

Cora said his point was simple: "We've got to get better. That's the whole message."

In ESPN's latest rankings, the Red Sox checked in at No. 14 out of 30 in organizational prospect rankings. They have three Top-100 prospects, but there are plenty of teams ahead of that.

Former second baseman Dustin Pedroia addressed the infielders on a field and Martinez watched pitchers, including Sale, on another that had crowds outside that were a bit smaller than usual at the start of school vacation week in Massachusetts.

"It was really good," Kennedy said. "It was really positive. Some special guest appearances by some well-known Red Sox alums."

Kennedy also had a simple message for those predicting another bad season.

"As long as I've been around, they're usually wrong. I don't put a lot of stock in them," he said. "We'll let the players do the talking."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.