BOSTON --- Leading up to Thursday's non-waiver Trade Deadline, there was plenty of reason to believe the Red Sox were going to be active. But unloading seven players from their 25-man roster over the past week is something totally different.
Boston's front office acted with eyes firmly on 2015, sending Jon Lester and Jonny Gomes to Oakland, Andrew Miller to Baltimore, John Lackey to St. Louis and Stephen Drew to the Yankees. Jake Peavy and Felix Doubront were moved to the Giants and Cubs, respectively, in the last week.
Although several pieces from the 2013 World Series group were already gone, Thursday marked a big day in the organization's future. For guys still in the clubhouse, what happened to the roster was surprising, yet understandable.
"That's part of it. The beginning of the season, you're hoping this point comes around, the season's going like you want it to go, and you're adding people instead of taking them away," righty Clay Buchholz said Thursday before the Buchholz Bowl, a bowling and auction event held to benefit his foundation. "Like I said, it's just part of the game. That's the business side of it. Nothing you can really do about it. It's already done."
A considerable portion of the Red Sox's roster showed up at Jillian's & Lucky Strike Lanes right outside Fenway Park to support Buchholz's charity. Mike Napoli, Dustin Pedroia, Brock Holt, Shane Victorino, Will Middlebrooks, David Ross and Brandon Workman, among several others, were all in attendance but declined to answer questions on the team's personnel. With Thursday's moves, though, there were several familiar faces missing.
Even former Boston Bruins winger Shawn Thornton said he'll be at the game Saturday and volunteered to pitch for the Red Sox if need be.
"You never really want to lose teammates," said center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr. "But as we all know, it's a business."
Buchholz is now the only starter left from the team's Opening Day rotation, so he'll have some new company in the clubhouse. The right-hander said he saw Lackey as a leader, especially for young pitchers, and thinks of Lester as an ace of any staff.
Buchholz said it's a bit of a shock to see those two go, although not totally unexpected.
"We'll be friends 'till the day we all die anyway," Buchholz said, hiding a smile. "Just not during the nine months of the season we won't be around each other."
General manager Ben Cherington said last week that anything the club did at the Trade Deadline would be with an eye toward next season. He held true to that by moving five players Thursday and picking up mostly Major Leaguers in return --- Allen Craig and Joe Kelly from the Cardinals, Yoenis Cespedes from the A's and Kelly Johnson from the Yankees.
The Red Sox have lost eight of their last nine games and are 48-60. Last season, Boston lost its 60th game on Sept. 17. But 2014 has been a struggle, and Cherington acted.
"When you trade a guy like a Jon Lester, a John Lackey, you're surprised, especially when you've been accustomed to hearing rumors and nothing eventually plays out," said reliever Craig Breslow. "But you have to credit the front office with keeping an eye on the bigger picture. Feeling like they have some needs to address and having the nerve to do it."
Lester, Bradley and Breslow all wished their former teammates well. Breslow said he hopes some younger players can step up and fill the void. Bradley said he's excited to play alongside Cespedes, who has one of the best arms in the league.
"It's a little different," Buchholz said, "but that's the business side of baseball. Hopefully they can help another team reach the playoffs and win the World Series."
Steven Petrella is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.