BOSTON -- A sluggish start -- the worst the Red Sox have had since 1996 -- is something nobody in the organization is taking lightly. General manager Theo Epstein and his assistant, Ben Cherington, met with manager Terry Francona and the coaching staff earlier in the day on Tuesday, as the group brainstormed for ways to get more out of the team.
Before Tuesday night's game against the Rangers, Epstein didn't make any excuses for the club's 4-9 start. At the same time, he expressed confidence that his largely veteran team will turn things around.
"I think what makes us feel better is that we know we're better than this," Epstein said. "These players have track records as individuals, and you pretty much know what they're going to do. There are going to be some guys who overperform and some who underperform. It's not going to be every player that's underperforming. We're going to get back to our level. And as an organization, we have a track record and a standard we need to live up to. One way or another, we're going to get there collectively. It's not like we lost faith in all of our players all of a sudden."
Epstein mentioned the need for everyone to be accountable and do everything possible to get back on track.
"It's certainly not the time for excuses or sugarcoating it," Epstein said. "We've played bad baseball. It's a bad stretch of play, and when you do that at the start of the season, it looks even worse. I don't think this is about perception or optics. It's just what it is. It's been bad baseball. We haven't played well. There are no excuses for how we've played."
What has stood out to Epstein the most is that the team has played below its capabilities in just about every front, and it has been both mental and physical.
"We haven't played smart baseball. We haven't really played aggressive baseball -- as [Dustin Pedroia] said [Monday], there are games we haven't even showed up to," Epstein said. "It's been a disappointing stretch of play. A lot of teams go through it. But it's uncharacteristic for us for April. We tend to get off to better starts."
The way Epstein looks at it, this is when teams find out what they are made out of.
"So we have to own it, we have to take responsibility for it and recognize that it's got to change," Epstein said. "That's what we're going to do. It's a very disappointing stretch of play. It's also an opportunity to confront it, to show some leadership and to collectively pull ourselves out of it and change it as soon as possible."
How does it change?
"You do what you can," said Epstein. "Everyone takes personal responsibility for it -- the whole organization. We had a meeting today, Tito and the whole coaching staff and Ben and I all got together and went through just about every player and talked about every issue and put our heads together to see if there's anything we can do.
"I think, ultimately, it comes down to playing better on the field, but everyone can play a small part. If you think of one thing that can put one player in a slightly better position to make one play, that's helping. Really, there's a lot of room for improvement, so it shouldn't be too hard for us to start playing better, because really we haven't been doing the little things well and we haven't been doing the big things well. We're capable of much better. We believe in these guys and I have a feeling it's going to start pretty soon."
Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.