BOSTON — Embattled Red Sox pitchers Jon Lester, Josh Beckett and John Lackey denied a TV report Tuesday that said they drank beer in the dugout during games.
The allegation is the latest in a rough stretch for Boston, which missed the playoffs following a record collapse, going 7-20 in September and finishing at 90-72.
Manager Terry Francona was let go last month, general manager Theo Epstein appears to be on his way out and Lester, Beckett and Lackey have caught much of the blame for the team's season-ending skid.
"Tonight our organization has heard directly from Jon, Josh, John, and former manager Terry Francona," team president Larry Lucchino said Tuesday in a release.
"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.
"It is time to look forward and move forward, rather than allow a reckless, unsubstantiated accusation from 'anonymous sources' to mislead the public."
WHDH-TV, citing two unidentified Red Sox employees, reported Tuesday that Beckett, Lester and Lackey would fill their cups with beer in the Fenway Park clubhouse, then return to the dugout and drink while watching the game.
One of the employees told WHDH-TV the three starters appeared "bored on nights they weren't pitching and this is how they entertained themselves."
"The accusation that we were drinking in the dugout during games is completely false," Lester said in the release issued by the team. "Anonymous sources are continuing to provide exaggerated and, in this case, inaccurate information to the media."
Said Beckett: "I cannot let this allegation go without response; enough is enough. 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."
The Boston Globe reported last Wednesday that Beckett, Lackey and Lester would eat fried chicken, drink beer and play video games in the clubhouse during games, instead of being in the dugout with their teammates. That story was based on "team sources."
"There are things that went on this season that shouldn't have happened, but this latest rumor is not true," Lackey said in Tuesday's release, "and I felt that it was important to try to stop this from going any further."
Said Francona: "In 32 years of professional baseball, I have never seen someone drinking beer in the dugout."
(This version CORRECTS Corrects to WHDH-TV in the seventh and eighth paragraphs.)