BOSTON -- The Red Sox emphatically disputed a television report that some of their starting pitchers drank beer in the dugout during games this season.
The staunch denial included statements from pitchers Jon Lester, Josh Beckett and John Lackey, as well as club president/CEO Larry Lucchino and former manager Terry Francona.
It came a day after Lester was candid in admitting that reports were true of Sox starters drinking beer in the clubhouse during games they weren't pitching in.
"The accusation that we were drinking in the dugout during games is completely false," Lester said on Tuesday night. "Anonymous sources are continuing to provide exaggerated and, in this case, inaccurate information to the media."
The report of pitchers drinking beer out of cups in the dugout came from WHDH-TV (Channel 7) in Boston early Tuesday evening. The station cited two team employees as sources.
Beckett was so upset by it that he ended his silence that had lasted since the end of the season.
"I cannot let this allegation go without response; enough is enough," said Beckett. "I admit that I made mistakes along the way this season, but this has gone too far. To say that we drank in the dugout during the game is not true."
Lackey was the third Boston pitcher who was widely associated with clubhouse drinking during games, and he also made his first public comments since the end of the season via a statement that was released by the Red Sox.
"There are things that went on this season that shouldn't have happened, but this latest rumor is not true, and I felt that it was important to try to stop this from going any further," Lackey said.
While Francona, who parted ways with the Red Sox two days after the season ended, had stated that he wished more players were on the bench supporting their teammates, he made it clear he never saw anyone drinking beer in the dugout.
"In 32 years of professional baseball, I have never seen someone drinking beer in the dugout," Francona said.
Lucchino took the unified dismissal of the Channel 7 report to heart.
"Tonight our organization has heard directly from Jon, Josh, John, and former manager Terry Francona," Lucchino said. "Each has assured us that the allegation that surfaced today about drinking in the dugout during games in 2011 is false, and we accept their statements as honest and factual.
"As we continue our internal examination to fully understand what went wrong in September, 2011, we appreciate these strong and clear statements from our players.
"It is time to look forward and move forward, rather than allow a reckless, unsubstantiated accusation from 'anonymous sources' to mislead the public."
In addition to identifying what led to the decline of their clubhouse culture, the Red Sox are also in the process of trying to reach an agreement with the Cubs in which Theo Epstein would vacate his post as general manager and take a position in Chicago. Ben Cherington would then be promoted to GM, and he would go full-speed ahead in the task of finding Francona's successor.
The hectic offseason comes after a 7-20 September, when the Red Sox became the first team in baseball history to have a nine-game lead in the final month of the season and not make it to the postseason.