Soul-searching sessions for Red Sox
No confirmation of call to oust manager
BALTIMORE — The furor over the state of the Red Sox clubhouse refuses to go away.
Team owners convened a series of meetings with manager Bobby Valentine and some of the players on July 26 in New York, and in one session some players expressed concern about the state of the team and their relationship with the manager, a person who was at the meeting told the Globe Tuesday.
“There were a few things said about Bobby, but it was mostly other things,” said the team source. From 14 to 17 players were said to attend.
After the meeting, owners agreed that Valentine would continue to serve as manager, said a person who was at the meeting. “It affirmed to us that Bobby Valentine was our manager,” he said. Just over a week later, Red Sox owner John Henry issued a statement in support of Valentine.
The players meeting was first reported by Yahoosports.com. That account had players highly critical of Valentine, and said some were seeking his removal.
On Tuesday, Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington confirmed the meeting, but Cherington would not confirm that some players wanted Valentine fired. Like other team personnel interviewed Tuesday, he said he did not want to dwell on something that occurred more than two weeks ago.
“I don’t think there is anything else to say,” Cherington said. “The meeting happened over two weeks ago and we moved on.”
According to the Yahoo! report, star first baseman Adrian Gonzalez initiated the meeting. He and some other players reportedly felt Valentine had embarrassed pitcher Jon Lester by leaving him in to allow 11 runs during a July 22 start against Toronto at Fenway Park.
The report also said that Gonzalez and second baseman Dustin Pedroia were among the most vocal in the meeting, in which some players stated flatly they no longer wanted to play for Valentine.
Before the Red Sox played the Orioles Tuesday night, Pedroia took exception to the Yahoo! report and how his involvement was portrayed.
“The one thing I said when I stood up and said to everyone in the room, I said, “You [owners], the players, the manager, the coaches, are having a terrible season and we have to step it up and turn it around. That’s blasting the manager? Are you kidding?,” said Pedroia.
“We have no idea where this stuff comes from. I just hope it’s not one of our teammates spreading stuff like that.”
Pedroia acknowledged Tuesday that he had a disagreement with Valentine earlier in the season, but “that was cleared up a long time ago. If I have something to say to Bobby, I’m not going to the owners. I’m going to say it to his face.”
Pedroia added: “Bobby and I haven’t had a problem. We get along great. This is what’s so frustrating, that this stuff comes out and my name is on it and there’s no truth to it whatsoever.”
In regard to Lester being left in the July 22 game, Pedroia acknowledged that he had a problem with it and other players did as well, but he added, “Tito [Francona, the former manager] did it a few times a year and I let him hear about it. Stuff like that happens all the time. The next day Tito would go to the guy and talk to him. I think Bobby’s done the same thing.”
Valentine was stunned by the report, saying that his relationships with Gonzalez and Pedroia have been very good.
“I’m not going to comment on any stories, and I don’t know what issues you might be referring to,” Valentine said. “Dustin and I had a talk about a meeting that I had.”
Valentine did refer to the Lester outing, however, and indicated that sometime around the second inning, he informed Lester that the bullpen was thin and he would have to pitch. Lester, he said, was on board.
Gonzalez wouldn’t elaborate on the Yahoo! story.
Pedroia said players are sick of the constant harping about Valentine’s relationship with them.
“Bobby knows how I feel about him,’’ said Pedroia. “But I’m going to go in to talk to him about it.”
Red Sox DH David Ortiz, who has been on the disabled list with an Achilles’ tendon injury, said, “We have to stop with this crap and just concentrate on baseball. It’s frustrating here the past two years with all the stories that come out about our team all the time. I think we’re all sick of it.”
Ortiz said he was not one of the players at the meeting. He said he had been to the round-table sessions before and saw no need to attend this one.
According to Francona, Red Sox ownership held round-table sessions about “three or four times a year.” But in those sessions, Francona said Tuesday, he was in the room with the players. In this case, the owners had a meeting with Valentine alone, and then Valentine and his coaches, and then just the players.
Efforts to reach Henry were unsuccessful Tuesday, but in his statement some eight days after the July 26 meeting, he wrote, “Bobby is our manager, and we’re not considering anyone else. He’s as committed to managing the team as he ever has been, and we’re committed to him and trying to do everything we can to support him and make this work.”