The door was ajar, and Theo Epstein finally walked through it and back into the front office of the Boston Red Sox.
The most successful general manager in franchise history will rejoin the Red Sox baseball operations department in a full-time - but otherwise unspecified - position. His long-rumored return comes 2 1/2 months after he turned down a contract extension and fled Fenway Park in a gorilla suit to avoid the encamped media.
"As you know, we have spoken frequently during the last 10 weeks," the team and Epstein said in a joint statement last night. "We have engaged in healthy, spirited debates about what it will take over the long term for the Red Sox to remain a great organization and, in fact, become a more effective organization in philosophy, approaches and ideals.
"Ironically, Theo's departure has brought us closer together in many respects, and, thanks to these conversations, we now enjoy the bonds of a shared vision for the organization's future that did not exist on Oct. 31. With this vision in place, Theo will return to the Red Sox in a full-time baseball operations capacity, details of which will be announced next week."
Epstein declined to elaborate on the statement, which also came from principal owner John Henry, chairman Tom Werner and president Larry Lucchino.