RED SOX NOTEBOOK
Jim Davis/Globe Staff
On the eve of a showdown series against the Yankees, principal owner John Henry feels this Red Sox team is the best he has seen in more than a decade with one important caveat.
“It’s a historic team with regard to regular-season dominance, but history is primarily based on the postseason,” Henry wrote in response to an e-mail. “The best thing I can say about it is how much fun this team has been to watch.”
Henry, who also owns the Globe, said the ticket demand for the Yankees series is the highest in years. He credits first-year manager Alex Cora and what is largely an entirely new coaching staff with changing the team’s approach.
“If you remember during spring training I got frustrated initially with writers’ negativity that we hadn’t done much,” Henry wrote in his first public comments on the team since spring training. “I pointed out how bad our approach was last year and how a clean sweep of staff was a major change. Alex and his staff have had a clear approach that is quite different from what we had before, different on a number of levels.
“The talent was there and we were able to win the division the last two years, but we weren’t nearly aggressive enough, except in running the bases where we were much too aggressive.”
Under Cora, the 75-34 Sox lead the majors in runs per game (5.25) and are third in earned run average (3.47). Only the Astros have a better run differential.
“Alex is very, very focused and so is this team and staff this year. He is aggressive yet doesn’t overreact or fail to think important issues through,” Henry wrote.
“All of us have been amazed at the presence and intuitive insights he has brought on a daily basis and we’ve also been amazed at how quickly he adjusted to what a major league manager has to deal with in real time during each game.
“The team’s focus shows up every single night. Nothing is taken for granted.”
Henry also said that ownership has made it clear to All-Star right fielder and Most Valuable Player candidate Mookie Betts that they want to sign him to a long-term contract.
“Yes, over the last two off-seasons,” he wrote. “I wanted to ensure that Mookie knew personally how important he is to us and to our future.”
Betts, who cannot become a free agent until after the 2020 season, has said he prefers to go year by year. The 25-year-old beat the Red Sox in an arbitration hearing last winter to claim a salary of $10.5 million this season.
Henry said he did not want to elaborate further on ownership’s intentions for Betts with the team in a pennant race.
Injured catcher Christian Vazquez was at Fenway Park on Tuesday for the first time in several weeks. He has been doing conditioning work at the team facility in Florida after breaking his right pinkie on July 7.
Vazquez, who had surgery, is out of cast and has his finger supported by a small brace.
“I should be able to start throwing next week and hitting in two weeks,” he said. “It’s a lot better.”
Vazquez will return to Florida when the Sox start a trip in Toronto on Tuesday.
Vazquez is expected to return sometime later this month.
Xander Bogaerts, who was hit on the right hand by a pitch on Tuesday night, was at Fenway Park to get treatment in Wednesday. His status for Thursday is uncertain . . . The Yankees lead the season series, 5-4, but the Sox have outscored the Yankees, 53-49. The Yankees are 1-2 at Fenway Park this season . . . The Red Sox released Triple A first baseman Adam Lind. The 35-year-old agreed to a minor league deal in May but hit .216 with eight home runs and 32 RBIs in 46 games. Second baseman Brandon Phillips, 37, has so far elected to stay with Pawtucket. The four-time major league All-Star has hit .229 in 10 Triple A games and been hampered by minor injuries.
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