Francona apologizes to Valentine
NEW YORK — Terry Francona raised eyebrows at Yankee Stadium on Saturday afternoon when he grabbed a chair in the Red Sox clubhouse and held a long conversation with six players and bench coach Tim Bogar.
On Sunday, Francona apologized to Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine via text message.
Valentine said the apology wasn’t necessary, but he appreciated it.
“I didn’t think it was any big deal,” Valentine said before the Red Sox took the series with a 3-2 in in 10 innings. “I didn’t see it. I wasn’t there partaking in the conversation. But what’s the big deal?”
Francona is now with ESPN after spending eight years as the manager of the Red Sox. As part of his job, he visits clubhouses to gather information.
But Saturday’s extended visit was uncharacteristic given that Francona said earlier this season that he planned to limit his time in the Red Sox clubhouse given how awkward the situation would be for Valentine. As they normally would, Francona and ESPN’s other broadcasters, Orel Hershiser and Dan Shulman, met with Valentine before Sunday night’s game against the Yankees.
Valentine made light of the situation when asked how that meeting went.
“Oh, I yelled at him as soon as he came into my office and just said, ‘Don’t ever do that again,’ ” Valentine said. “No. I said, ‘Hey, how you doing?’ and we didn’t bring it up.”
He did not impress, lasting only five innings and allowing two runs on two hits and six walks. The oft-injured Johnson has a 4.04 earned run average in 21 starts and a 1.35 WHIP.
The Marlins are seeking a package of high-profile prospects for Johnson, who is under contract through the 2013 season.
As of Sunday afternoon, the Red Sox were not perceived as being heavily involved.
Valentine was asked what needs he thought the Red Sox had.
“I think we need a better press corps. Probably help the mental state of our group. Other than that, I don’t see any gaping holes,” he said.
On a serious note, Valentine is expecting the Sox to be buyers leading up to the Tuesday non-waivers trade deadline.
“This organization is in it to win it all the time. I don’t think the ownership and the front office is thinking anything other than we’ve got a shot,” he said.
Team president Larry Lucchino has said the Sox could be “bold” at the deadline. But major league sources said the Red Sox do not appear to be pursuing any major trades.
“I’m trying to get Mike’s toe where it should be,” Valentine said. “We thought we had it in a situation that was comfortable but it’s less than comfortable. I’m hoping only a day but we’ll see how he feels tomorrow.”
Through Saturday, Aviles had played 844⅔ innings in the field. That is by far the most of his career.
“I think I’m holding up fine,” he said. “I try to prepare myself in the winter for playing every day and I’ve been fortunate enough to do that. Once I get past this toe thing, I should be fine.”
Aviles said he would be getting his toe examined by a doctor Monday.
“Oh, yeah, absolutely,” Valentine said if the injury has affected Aviles. “Affects his batting; he’s been coming off of it so early. But he’s been gutting through it and wanted to play.”
Aviles entered Sunday’s game hitting .252 with 10 home runs and 51 RBIs.
His fielding, while not Gold Glove-caliber, has been better than was expected coming out of spring training.
“Bobby has shown a lot of confidence in me by playing me every day and that helps,” Aviles said. “It’s been a while since a manager has done that.
“I’m not saying I’m a great player or anything like that. But I play hard when I’m out there and I appreciate putting on a uniform and playing with these guys.
“I feel like I’ve contributed and done my part. Coming to Boston has been a great thing for my career. I really feel comfortable here.”
Pedro Ciriaco started at shortstop Sunday night.