With Red Sox Nation in full panic mode after the Rays' three-game sweep over the weekend, general manager Theo Epstein did his best during a radio interview Monday morning on WEEI to calm the fears and put the onus on their players to get back to winning: "It's how you respond."
Epstein said he and manager Terry Francona never counted out the Rays even when they were 10 games back and said he is already looking forward to the challenge of the four-game series this weekend in Boston:
"I'm glad we play the Rays four times coming up. If we can't right the ship against these guys, if we can't do what we need to do, we probably don't deserve to get into the postseason.
"As much as this looks like a crisis from the outside and obviously has not been fun on the inside, this is an opportunity. If we are what we think we are, to quote somebody else, then this is a great opportunity for us to go play well for 2½ weeks, ride some momentum into the postseason and be the team that we were for four months, the best team in baseball over four months. We have to go do that."
And Epstein said if they don't, they don't deserve to be playing in October:
"We have an opportunity ahead of us to play good baseball for 21/2 weeks and ride that momentum to the postseason. If we don't do it, we don't deserve to be there. We have to prove that we are the team that had the best record in baseball for four-plus months, not the team that started 2-10 or has played 3-10 most recently. That's on us. We need to go out and do it."
Epstein also revealed that Red Sox RF J.D. Drew broke his right middle finger during an Aug. 30 rehab game with Triple-A Pawtucket. Drew has been on disabled list since July 26 with a left shoulder impingement.
9/11 tribute: Mets player representative Josh Thole hopes to come to an agreement soon with Major League Baseball on a policy that would allow his team to wear emergency service-department caps during games on every Sept. 11. Thole called the players' association a day after the Mets were denied their request to wear caps honoring first responders on the 10th anniversary of the attacks.
Also, Mets LHP Johan Santana, continuing to rehab from shoulder surgery in September 2010, is set to start Thursday for Class A Savannah during the South Atlantic League championship series.
CARDS, ACE NEAR DEAL: RHP Chris Carpenter and the Cardinals are closing in on a $21 million, two-year contract that is likely to be announced this week. Carpenter, 36, is 142-92 with a 3.79 ERA in 14 seasons with the Blue Jays and Cardinals.
BLUE JAYS: RH reliever Jon Rauch went on the 15-day disabled list because of a cartilage tear in his right knee and is out for the season.
DODGERS: RF Andre Ethier, out for the season with a right knee injury, is scheduled to have arthroscopic surgery Wednesday.
MARLINS: LF Logan Morrison returned to Miami to have his ailing right knee examined by team doctors. Morrison injured the knee making a sliding catch Friday.
REDS: Utility INF Chris Valaika is scheduled to have season-ending surgery next week to repair a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee.
WHITE SOX: RF Carlos Quentin, out since Aug. 20 with a sprained left shoulder, was activated from the 15-day disabled list.