FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Red Sox chairman Tom Werner, whose television background has made him ownership’s point man in its oversight of NESN, said Thursday he was “delighted” analyst Jerry Remy was returning to the booth.
Remy had taken a leave of absence last August after his 35-year-old son, Jared, was arrested and charged with murder in the stabbing death of Jennifer Martel, the mother of the couple’s 4-year-old child.
“I think what we said to Jerry at the time, we just offered our support after the tragedy and said, ‘There’s a place for you if and when you want to come back,’’’ Werner said. “’This is going to be a very personal decision. You have a home here at NESN if and when you feel it’s appropriate to come back.’
“We’re delighted that he’s back. I know that he’s very mindful of the tragedy. I think he’s excited about returning to the booth.’’
Werner also addressed the decision not to retain Jenny Dell as a reporter on NESN Red Sox telecasts because of her relationship with Will Middlebrooks, the team’s third baseman.
“We talked about it internally,’’ Werner said. “I think Jenny is a terrific reporter. We came to the conclusion, and Jenny came to the same conclusion, that it would be a distraction for her to be a reporter, so she’s moving on.
“I think it wasn’t a black and white decision, can she sort of divorce her personal life from being professional, but in the end, we decided it was better to move on and not be a distraction.’’
Dell is still employed by NESN but does not currently have a role. Werner said she was offered other positions at the network but “she’s looking for other opportunities.’’ There had been reports that NESN was exercising a noncompete clause in her contract to keep her from leaving, but Werner said Dell is free to go.
Werner, asked about the difference between coming to camp this spring compared to last, when the Sox had finished last in 2012, laughed.
“Last year,’’ he said, “I think people thought we’d taken a stupid pill.
“We just got out of a meeting with John Farrell,’’ he said, referring to the meeting of the full squad Thursday morning. “As much as we appreciate what happened last year, the focus is on 2014, what we’re going to do now that the team has come to work. John Farrell said, ‘Let’s not think about the last out of the World Series but how we approach the year, the first day of spring training.’ As much as we can appreciate what we did last year, we’re focused on today and tomorrow.
“What John said is true: This is an extraordinarily close-knit group of guys. Almost to a man they came to work early this year, they’re prepared, they’re focused. Obviously we’re very proud of what we did, but this year the focus is on today, tomorrow and getting off to a good start in April.’’
Last season, the Red Sox had an 18-8 record in April, the best record in the league.
Werner was asked about the difference in how the Sox now view awarding lavish long-term contracts and the approach taken by the Yankees, who spent nearly $500 million this offseason.
“Well, we don’t think necessarily spending the most money always produces a winner,’’ Werner said. “We’re always among the top three, four teams in terms of payroll. We have a great organization, we all know the moves Ben [Cherington] made last year putting the team together probably was part of the reason we won. It was not because we signed one player for 150, 200 million dollars. That all started with the decision we all made to shed payroll [in the Dodgers’ deal] and redeploy it.
“I’m not saying the Yankees won’t be very competitive this year. They’ve got an extraordinarily good team. I like our chances, too.’’