McAdam: Red Sox a house divided?

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McAdam: Red Sox a house divided?

BOSTON -- "Toxic'' -- the word used by ESPN.com's Buster Olney to describe the Red Sox clubhouse dynamic -- may have been too strong a phrase.
But at the very least, emerging details of the 2012 Red Sox reveal the organization to be somewhat dysfunctional at nearly every level, more closely resembling a soap opera than a successful team.
Club insiders paint a picture of a handful of alientated players, a detached manager, an absentee ownership and a general manager caught in-between.
Numerous sources indicated that the relationship between teammates is better than some would expect for a club that has gone through the upheavel the Sox have experienced since last September.
As might be expected with a high-profile manager like Bobby Valentine, there's a divided opinion among the players. Some have no problem with his managing style, preferring to do their job and avoid conflict.
Others are not so accepting of Valentine, to the point, in one case, of openly challenging him. And a number are unhappy with the lack of communication from the manager's office.
One player involved in a transaction this season, for instance, learned of his fate through the team's Twitter feed. Others dislike his unwillingness to tell players ahead of time that they won't be in the lineup the next days.
"That,'' acknowledged one player generally supportive of Valentine, "is not fair.''
Valentine's style is about as different from his predecessor, Terry Francona, as could be imagined. While Francona interracted with players and valued communication, Valentine takes more of an old-school approach, feeling little need -- as he himself said on the first weekend of the regular season -- to inform the players of every lineup adjustment ahead of time.
Of course, one of the reasons that Valentine was hired was precisely (italics please) because (end italics) he was the polar opposite of Francona. While the latter was very much a player's manager -- to his detriment in 2011, when players tuned him out and took advantage of his trusting nature -- Valentine is known as a button-pusher, capable of tweaking players publicly in order to motivate or merely to make his point.
Perhaps Valentine's reclusive nature is somewhat understandable. Sources indicate that, following his infamous remark aimed at Youkilis in April, the manager felt he didn't get the support of management. Indeed, GM Ben Cherington publicly sided with Youkilis.
Moreover, a source said Valentine was told to apologize to Youkilis, though it's unclear who made that demand.
And because hiring Valentine wasn't Cherington's idea in the first place -- CEO and president Larry Lucchino invited Valentine into the process, then strongly advised his first-year GM to hire him -- there's a perception that the Sox are a house divided.
Sensing this, some players unhappy with Valentine have taken their complaints to Cherington, who must act as a mediator.
Finally, there's ownership, which, over the years, has gone from present and involved to increasingly distracted by other business interests. While the ownershipupper management troika of Lucchino, John Henry and Tom Werner make themselves visible at high-profile series such as last weekend's three-game set at Wrigley Field or the 100th Fenway Park anniversary in April, they're not nearly as visible as before when the club won two championships in ownership's first six years.
Fairly or not, some around the club see the owners as less immersed in the day-to-day operation of the club, and more preoccupied by other investments.
"It used to be,'' said one player, "that owners used to know everything was going on around here. Now, they have to hear about it from others.''

Quotes, notes and stars: Red Sox 'a pitch or two from finishing the job' vs. Rays

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Quotes, notes and stars: Red Sox 'a pitch or two from finishing the job' vs. Rays

BOSTON - Quotes, notes and stars from the Red Sox' 4-3 loss to Tampa Bay Rays:

QUOTES:

"Part of that job is, when you miss, you have to miss to the extreme.'' - John Farrell on the role of eighth-inning reliever Clay Buchholz, who mislocated a fastball to Evan Longoria.

"We're putting ourselves in position to close games out and yet we've found ourselves a pitch or two from finishing the job.'' - Farrell on the team's bullpen woes.

"Fastball. I was trying to throw it up-and-away, and I pulled it, more inner-third. That's a spot where he hits the ball a long way.'' - Clay Buchholz on the game-winning homer by Longoria.

 

NOTES:

* The Rays and Sox have played 21 one-run games in the lasr four seasons and four in the last week.

* David Ortiz's sacrifice fly in the sixth was his 26th go-ahead RBI, fourth-best in the A.L.

* Xander Bogaerts collected his 500th career hit, and became the fifth Red Sox player to reach that milestone before turning 24.

* Brock Holt's double in the fifth lifted his average to .337 with two outs.

* Hanley Ramirez's home run was his first against Tampa Bay since May 21, 2011 when he was with the Marlins.

* Ramirez has 19 extra-base hits in the last 27 home games.

* Dustin Pedroia was 1-for-3 and and is now 15-for-his-last-19 at Fenway.

* The Sox dropped to 7-37 when they score three runs or fewer.

* Brad Ziegler was unavailable, suffering from the flu.

 

STARS:

1) Evan Longoria

It wouldn't be a Rays win over the Red Sox without the third baseman doing some damage. Sure enough, he smoked a tape-measure shot over everything in left in the eighth to provide the winning margin for the visitors.

2) Luke Maile

Drew Pomeranz struck him out twice, but Maile more than got revenge in the seventh with a two-run homer into the Monster Seats to tie the game.

3) Hanley Ramirez

The first baseman had a three-hit night, including a solo homer and a run-scoring single, accounting for two of the three Red Sox runs.

 

First impressions: Longoria makes Buchholz pay in Red Sox' 4-3 loss to Rays

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First impressions: Longoria makes Buchholz pay in Red Sox' 4-3 loss to Rays

BOSTON - First impressions from the Red Sox' 4-3 loss to Tampa Bay:

* There's a steep learning curve for a set-up man, as Clay Buchholz discovered.

Although he's pitched out of the bullpen for the last couple of months, most of those appearances weren't of the high leverage variety. More often than not, the Sox had a sizeable lead, or Buchholz was brought in earlier in the game. Or they were behind and he was mopping up.

But Tuesday was different. The Rays had battled back to tie the game in the bottom of the seventh, and after Matt Barnes got the final out in that inning, Buchholz came in to start the eighth.

After getting Kevin Kiermaier on a groundout to lead off the inning, Buchholz threw a four-seamer to Evan Longoria that the Tampa Bay third baseman launched toward the Charles River, clearing everything and putting the Rays up by a run.

It was a reminder that in late innings of close games, one pitch, with missed location, can really hurt.

 

* Hanley Ramirez knocked in two runs. He was sort of lucky.

In the fifth inning, Ramirez hit a twisting opposite-field fly ball down the right field line. It landed just past the Pesky Pole in right, measured at 307 feet, the shortest homer in baseball this season, according to ESPN Stats and Information.

Then, an inning later, Ramirez hit a pop fly that drifted into shallow right. Three Rays defenders converged -- first baseman, second baseman and right fielder -- and somehow the ball dropped in between all three for a run-scoring single.

Two cheap hits, two RBI.

At times, you'll see hitters mash the ball, only to have it hit right at someone for an out. Rotten luck, and all.

Tuesday night, Ramirez got to experience the flip side of that.

 

* Drew Pomeranz had an excellent outing -- until his final pitch of the night.

Through 6 2/3 innings, Pomeranz had allowed a single run on four hits while walking two and striking out eight.

He had retired 10 of the previous 11 hitters he had faced, and while he was approaching his 100th pitch, showed no evidence of tiring.

Then, Pomernaz hung a curveball to No. 9 hitter Luke Maile -- with two strikes, no less -- and Maile hit into the Monster Seats for a game-tying, two-run homer.

It was the first homer on a curveball allowed by Pomeranz in 153 innings this season, and all of a sudden, the outing wasn't so special.