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    Jenny Dell free to leave NESN, Sox chairman says

    Jenny Dell.
    Rick Bern
    Jenny Dell.

    Red Sox chairman Tom Werner said this morning that reporter Jenny Dell, who was removed as the in-game reporter in late January, 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.

    Dell has spent two years at NESN and has a year remaining on her contract after the network picked up her option.

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    Dell, who quickly gained popularity with her friendly manner among Red Sox fans when she replaced Heidi Watney before the 2012 season, has been shifted from her role as in-game reporter to a reporter/anchor role primarily with NESN Sports Today.

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    NESN executives haven’t commented 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.

    But multiple industry sources believe it’s 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 wildly successful television executive who has the last word at NESN, has said she can leave, the question becomes how soon before she does.

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    Meanwhile, according to industry sources, NESN has narrowed its list of candidates for the Red Sox reporter job to as few as four, with men under consideration for the role.