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Henry: Red Sox are highly underrated in '18

Club's ownership feels healthy pitching staff is best in AL
MLB.com @IanMBrowne

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Enthused by his team's improved health and an almost entirely new coaching staff, Red Sox owner John Henry said on Monday that it is a mistake to overlook the two-time defending American League East champions.

"I think we are very strong and people are highly underrating this team," Henry said at around the same time the first full-squad workout was getting underway. "If we have the right approach, I think we'll be very successful. I think we have the right team.

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Enthused by his team's improved health and an almost entirely new coaching staff, Red Sox owner John Henry said on Monday that it is a mistake to overlook the two-time defending American League East champions.

"I think we are very strong and people are highly underrating this team," Henry said at around the same time the first full-squad workout was getting underway. "If we have the right approach, I think we'll be very successful. I think we have the right team.

"I know people don't like us apparently saying we won the division the last two years, but we had the best offense in the American League the year before last. We had significant pitching that was injured last year."

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Henry met with the media alongside chairman Tom Werner, who is also bullish on his team's chances this year despite the Yankees adding a major bat in Giancarlo Stanton.

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"I think it's good for the rivalry," Werner said. "The Yankees will have a very strong team and we have a very strong team, too. I think our pitching, John alluded to it, if we're healthy, I think we've got the best pitching staff, starting pitching ending with [Craig Kimbrel] in the bullpen. I think we have the best pitching staff in the American League."

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The Red Sox reportedly added a big bat to their lineup by reaching a deal with free-agent outfielder J.D. Martinez on Monday. The club has not confirmed a deal.

Both Henry and Werner said earlier on Monday that their club is a championship contender regardless of another addition to the roster.

"We are very happy with our roster," Henry said. "I think we do have the highest payroll in baseball, and again, we're defending American League East champions and I think we've done what we needed to do to improve this team."

Henry thinks much of the improvement will come from an offense that will take a different approach under manager Alex Cora and hitting coach Tim Hyers. Last season, the Red Sox finished last in the AL with 168 homers, which is why there has been so much scrutiny regarding the club's pursuit of Martinez.

"I think our approach last year was lacking offensively and we had issues that the players have already talked about," Henry said. "I didn't think we were nearly aggressive enough and I think our approach was lacking for a good part of the season. I think we would have had significant power last year if we would have had a different approach. That's my opinion. It may not be true. I think we have a very good offense."

Video: John Henry and Tom Werner confident entering 2018

Henry thinks not enough is made of how well the Red Sox did last season despite David Price making just 11 starts due to left elbow issues. By all accounts, Price is fully healthy entering this season.

"I think he's mentally ready and I think he's physically ready," Henry said. "When you look at the injuries we had in the starting pitching last year, we have those guys back strong this year. It should be, as Tom said, quite a pitching staff."

After losing in the AL Division Series the last two seasons, ownership hopes for a deep October run this year.

"And just speaking for John and me personally, we were nostalgic last night," Werner said. "This is our 17th year doing this and we feel we have accomplished a lot, but we'd like to win another World Series."

Ian Browne has covered the Red Sox for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne and Facebook.

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