Lasorda has advice for Valentine

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Lasorda has advice for Valentine

DALLAS Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine was first-round pick (fifth overall) of the Dodgers out of Rippowan High School in Stamford, Conn. The manager for his first four seasons was future Hall of Famer Tommy Lasorda. While Valentine played parts of10 major league seasons, the promise of his draft position never panned out, cut short by a leg injury that limited him to just 639 games with Dodgers, Padres, Angels, Mets and Mariners.

Since those early days, though, Lasorda has been a mentor and friend to Valentine. Lasorda knew early on Valentine would one day be a manager.

Ive seen him plan for a game, Lasorda said. Ive never seen many managers do that. He can plan for that game as good as anybody Ive ever seen.

He was one of my favorite players. He played for me in a rookie league. He played for me in Triple-A. He played for me in the Dominican Republic. So he asked me questions at all times.

Lasorda gave his counsel before Valentine took the Red Sox job with an ultimatum.

He always had a good job, Lasorda said. When you have a good job you always have an opportunity to get another job. But if you dont have a good job, its tough to get another job. He could have gone to two or three other clubs. I know I talked to clubs about him that called me and asked me. He could have gone with three clubs that I know of. But he didnt want to go. When the Boston opportunity came, he grabbed it. And I told him if he didnt, Id kick his ass.

Hes got a lot of enthusiasm. What hes got to do is take that team and get them all to play for the name on the front of their shirt and not for the name back of their shirt. If he can do that, then hell be successful.

But Lasorda knows that's not always easy.

Thats the ability that the manager has to have, Lasorda said. "To be able to put them all together, you got to get them all to be on one end of a rope and pull together. If you can do that, youre going to have success. But if half get on one end and half get on the other end, you can pull all day long. All youre doing is pulling against yourself. You got to take 25 guys and you got to make them believe that theyre the best in baseball, and he can do that.

While Valentine has been called, by turns, a genius and abrasive, brilliant and polarizing, Lasorda does not believe that Valentine's personality will get in the way of his new job.

Ive told him this; Hes got to get along with the general manager. Hes the boss, Lasorda said. And he should know that. He should realize that. In the 20 years I managed the dodgers, my general manager was the boss. And you figure this out. He gets you 25 players and he said, Heres your team. Go out and win. So you got to listen to him. You got to work with him. You got to understand him. And thats what I did for 20 years. The guy was the general manager. I had two general managers, and I feel the same way. Theyre the boss. Lets face it, their job is better or higher than yours. And you got to be together. You got to be good friends. You got to go out. AL Campanis, the general manager, we would discuss players 'til three in the morning. I said, Al, if you want me to say the same thing, youll go to the Grand Canyon. So I think I tried to do my best to always get along with the two general managers I had.

Lasorda thinks Bill Buckner, another long-time friend of Valentine, would be a good addition to the coaching staff.

I think that would be great, Lasorda said. "Buckner was an outstanding hitter. I think Buckner could relate to players. If he selects him, I think that would be a good selection.

Valentine, who turned 61 in May, has managed for 15 seasons in the major leagues, taking the Mets to the 2000 World Series, only to lose to the Yankees. While Lasorda sees the Sox offering Valentine another chance to win, Lasorda said theres another reason Valentine will enjoy managing in Boston.

Heres a place he wanted to come, Lasorda said. He could have been at a few other clubs. I know that. But he didn't want to be there. He wants to be here, Boston. He got the chance to manage Boston, he grabbed it real fast, because he loves Boston. There are a lot of Italians in Boston, and hell get along real good in the city.

Felger: Will October be a dance or a dud?

Felger: Will October be a dance or a dud?

For a Red Sox team that has been the best in baseball in September and had won 11 straight prior to last night, you have to admit: There are a lot of things that could go the other way with this team in the playoffs that wouldn't surprise you.

To wit:

-- Would it surprise you if David Price blew up again in the postseason? He has a 5.12 career postseason ERA and has never won a playoff start. Was last night a precursor? He looked like his old shaky October self with a chance to clinch the division in Yankee Stadium.

-- Would it surprise you if Clay Buchholz crapped his pants when it mattered most? This is your No. 3 starter, folks, or No. 4 at worst. He's getting the ball in the playoffs either way, and if I told you that two months ago you'd tell me the Sox are sunk. He looks good now, but we all know he is the ultimate tease.

-- Would it surprise you if John Farrell blows a game with a bone-headed decision from the bench? Of course not; he's been doing that for nearly four years. Yes, he did it all the way to a title in 2013, but the possibility remains very real. It's in the back of most everyone's mind.

-- Would it surprise you if Koji Uehara regresses and the eighth inning once again becomes a problem? Uehara certainly has the experience and has pitched well recently, but the fact is that it feels like his arm is attached by a noodle.

-- Would it surprise you if some of the Sox' youth shows its age? It shouldn't. Happens all the time. Would it surprise you if Craig Kimbrel can't find the plate in a big save situation? It shouldn't. He's shown glimpses of it all season and has never pitched past the division series in his career. Would it surprise you if Hanley Ramirez makes an important mistake at first? Or the Sox' hole at third becomes a factor? Nope and nope.

We could play this game all night.

Now, what do I think is going to happen? I think the Sox are going to pitch well, even Price, and the offense will remain a force. I have full faith in Dustin Pedroia, David Ortiz, Rick Porcello and the lineup in general. There's a feeling on this team that's hard to ignore, likely inspired by Ortiz, and I think they'll keep it going in the postseason. I agree with those who say the Sox have the most talent in the American League, so that's a great place to start. I don't know if that means the ALCS, the World Series or a championship. I just think they'll continue to play well into October.

But all of that is just a feeling, just a prediction -- and you know what those are good for. The point is this: If it goes the other way for the Sox, I think we already have the reasons why.

E-mail Felger at mfelger@comcastsportsnet.com. Listen to Felger and Mazz weekdays, 2-6 p.m., on 98.5 FM. The simulcast runs daily on CSN.

McAdam: Price not exactly hitting stride with postseason on horizon

McAdam: Price not exactly hitting stride with postseason on horizon

NEW YORK -- The division title was there for the taking Tuesday night at Yankee Stadium. When you've won 11 straight and steamrolled every other team in the division, what's one more?

One too many, apparently.

The Red Sox' 6-4 defeat to the New York Yankees postponed the Champagne party for at least one night. In and of itself, that's not a huge concern. The Sox' magic number remains one with five games to play and the club's epic hot streak had to come to an end eventually.

A better night by either David -- Ortiz or Price -- might have resulted in corks popping and on-field celebrations.

Ortiz was 0-for-5 and stranded a total of seven baserunners. When he came to the plate in the top of the ninth against Tyler Clippard with two outs and two on, it almost seemed scripted.

Here was Ortiz in his final Yankee Stadium series, about to inflict one final bit of misery on the rival Yankees with a three-run homer in the top of the ninth.

Talk about drama. Talk about one more famous, final scene.

Alas, Ortiz took some feeble swings and swung through strike three for the final out. Not even Ortiz, for all his clutch performances, can conjure a game-winner on-demand every time.

A far bigger concern was the work of Price. Perhaps the best thing than can be said of him for now is that he almost certainly will not have to face the Yankees again this season, against whom he's compiled a gaudy 7.89 ERA this season.

More troubling, though, is that Price is not exactly hitting his stride as the postseason appears on the near horizon. In his last three starts combined, Price has pitched 19 1/3 innings and allowed 27 hits and 14 runs.

That isn't the line of someone at peak form at the right time. To the contrary, after a run of outings in which it again appeared Price had figured everything out, he's regressed in his last three.

Most troubling Tuesday was a repeated inability to turn back the Yankees after his team had pulled close on the scoreboard.

Price spotted the Yankees a 3-0 lead, and the Sox finally scored twice in the top of the 6th to close within one at 3-2. But Price quickly gave anther run back in the bottom of the inning.

Then the Sox scored two more times in the seventh to tie things at 4-4. . . but Price gave the two runs right back in the bottom of the inning.

"Very frustrating,'' sighed Price. "It's something I talk about all the time. It's a very big deal. And it's something I feel like I've struggled with this entire year. Whenever you're going good, it's something you're doing very well. And whenever you're going bad...you get a lead, give it right back. . . that's tough.''

It also doesn't portend well for the postseason, where Price, as you may have heard, has a spotty track record.

With some strong starts in the final few weeks, he could have reached the playoffs with both momentum and confidence.

Instead, he's got one more start -- Sunday -- to straighten things out.

Ortiz? His postseason bona fides are set.

Price, meanwhile, has no such reservoir of success upon which to draw. And starts like Tuesday's only reinforce the doubts.